North Korea, under heavy U.N. sanctions for its nuclear weapons program, could be preparing a long-range ballistic missile test. This comes just weeks before South Korea's December 19 presidential election in which how to handle North Korea is a major campaign issue. The isolated North has for years tried to influence major events in the South by waging propaganda or armed attacks. The US has detected moves that are seen as preparation by North Korea for a long-range missile launch, which could take place as early as this month. North Korea is believed to be developing a long-range ballistic missile with a range of up to 6,700 km aimed at hitting the continental United States but the last two rocket test launches failed.
Regional powers trying to stop North Korea's arms program believe North Korea is using rocket launches to perfect technology to build a missile arsenal capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States. North Korea is under U.N. sanctions that ban trading in missile or nuclear technology that have driven its already dire economy deeper in trouble but cutting off what was once a lucrative source of hard cash.