North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July, a Japanese newspaper said on Thursday, amid escalating tensions between the communist country and the United States over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.
The missile, believed to be a long-range Taepodong-2, would be launched from North Korea's Dongchang-ni site on the northwestern coast, said the Yomiuri daily, Japan's top-selling newspaper. It cited an analysis by the Japanese Defense Ministry and intelligence gathered by US reconnaissance satellites.
The missile launch could come between July 4 and 8, the paper said. It noted North Korea had fired the Taepodong-2 missile on July 4, 1996. Also July 8 is the anniversary of the 1994 death of North Korea founder Kim II Sung.
The Yomiuri report is the latest in mounting media speculation that the communist country could launch a long-range missile soon following its underground nuclear test on May 25.
A spokesman for the Japanese Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report. Officials from South Korea's Defense Ministry and the National Intelligence Service the country's main spy agency said they could not confirm it.
While the Yomiuri speculated the Taepodong-2 could fly over Japan and toward Hawaii, it said the missile would not be able to hit the main islands of Hawaii.