North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has reportedly ordered for the largest missile for its arsenal, which is planned for launch in September this year, during the 70th anniversary of the founding of the republic.
According to a report by The Asahi Shimbun, a defector knowledgeable about North Korea's missile development program said Kim Jong Un gave the directive at a meeting in Pyongyang last year on Dec. 11 and 12 involving high-ranking officials involved in the munitions and science sectors.
The plan appears to be preparing for the missile launch on September 9, 2018, the report states.
The defector said the new missile would be considered the "Unha-4", an even larger version of the Unha-3, which had a total length of 30 meters and was launched in December 2012 and February 2016.
The Unha-3, an improved version of the Taepodong-2, is a three-stage, long-range ballistic missile. The Unha-3 was launched from the long-range ballistic missile launching site in Tongchang-ri, North Phyongan province.
The rocket is believed to have placed a small satellite in orbit, but experts have been unable to detect any transmissions from the satellite.
The defector continued that there were likely two major objectives in launching a new long-range missile. One would be the use of a satellite for guidance and observation of future missile launches. The other could be to use the pro forma launch of a satellite into space to test whether the missile was capable of re-entry into the atmosphere.
North Korea insists it has the sovereign right to operate rockets and satellites, although the United Nations Security Council has condemned Unha-class rocket launches on the grounds that the vehicles are essentially modified long-range missiles and that the North is using the tests to advance its inter-continental strike capabilities.