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North Korea 'preparing to launch nuke missile test' after Kim Jong-un taunted US with 'Christmas surprise'

SATELLITE images suggest North Korea is preparing to launch a long-range nuclear weapon after threatening to send Donald Trump a “Christmas surprise”.

The photos have emerged as US military and intelligence officials were increasingly concerned Kim Jong-un was plotting to test a ballistic missile over the festive period.

Satellite photos appear to show activity ramping up at a North Korean 'long-range nuclear missile plant'
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Credit: AP:Associated Press Satellite photos appear to show activity ramping up at a North Korean 'long-range nuclear missile plant' Credit: AP: Associated Press
This new satellite image on a North Korean missile-related site shows the construction of a new structure this month
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Credit: AP:Associated Press This new satellite image on a North Korean missile-related site shows the construction of a new structure this month Credit: AP: Associated Press
A photo released yesterday by the North Korean Central News Agency chairing the Third Enlarged Meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission
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Credit: EPA A photo released yesterday by the North Korean Central News Agency chairing the Third Enlarged Meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission Credit: EPA

Images obtained by NBC appear to show that North Korea has expanded its factory which makes missiles capable of reaching the United States.

They show a temporary structure for the raising of a launcher arms, says Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

In a report, Mr Lewis said there was clear evidence the hermit state was forging ahead launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

He concluded: "We believe North Korea erects this structure when the facility is involved in producing or modifying ICBM launchers

"There is activity at a number of locations indicating that North Korea is laying the groundwork for an expansion of their ICBM program — more systems, more buildings, more capabilities."

What I would expect is some kind of long-range ballistic missile would be the 'gift'

General Charles Brown, head of Pacific Air Forces

end what he called ongoing “hostility” while warning time was running out to salvage nuclear weapons talks. The evidence has come to light after Kim gave the White House until December 31 to end what he called ongoing “hostility” while warning time was running out to salvage nuclear weapons talks.

Earlier this month the dictator issued a very chilly festive warning to Trump , saying it was "up to the US what Christmas gift it will get" from the rogue state.

General Charles Brown, head of Pacific Air Forces, told reporters: "What I would expect is some kind of long-range ballistic missile would be the 'gift'.

"Does it come on Christmas Eve? Does it come on Christmas Day? Does it come after the new year? One of my responsibilities is to pay attention to that."

Any launch would signal a complete breakdown of peace talks aimed at averting nuclear war in the Korean peninsula and surrounding countries.

restart behind-the-scenes negotiations in October but quickly hit another stalemate. The US and North Korea attempted to restart behind-the-scenes negotiations in October but quickly hit another stalemate.

Afterwards the North Koreans hit out at the Americans' "old stance and attitude".

That move came after Trump's talks with Kim during a second so-called peace summit broke down in Vietnam.

The summit collapsed without an agreed deal for denuclearising the Korean Peninsula.

Washington has since said it will only relax crippling economic sanctions against the country if North Korea gives up its nukes and long-range missiles.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visits a multiple rocket launcher site at an undisclosed location in North Korea in September
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Credit: AP:Associated Press North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visits a multiple rocket launcher site at an undisclosed location in North Korea in September Credit: AP: Associated Press
Donald Trump once dubbed his rival 'Little Rocket Man' who in turn dubbed him a 'dotard' but later both reached out in peace talks in Singapore
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Credit: AP:Associated Press Donald Trump once dubbed his rival 'Little Rocket Man' who in turn dubbed him a 'dotard' but later both reached out in peace talks in Singapore Credit: AP: Associated Press
When Don met Kim ... the leaders engaged in talks for the third time in June at the demilitarised zone, but since then the relationship has chilled
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Credit: AFP or licensors When Don met Kim ... the leaders engaged in talks for the third time in June at the demilitarised zone, but since then the relationship has chilled Credit: AFP or licensors
The United States ’Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system, or THAAD, seen at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea, which has been deployed to shoot down missiles fired from the North
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Credit: AP:Associated Press The United States' Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system, or THAAD, seen at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea, which has been deployed to shoot down missiles fired from the North Credit: AP: Associated Press
Donald Trump fires warning shot at Kim Jong-un after latest 'nuclear missile' test
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