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N. Korea may be capable of sarin-loaded missile attack: Japan PM

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament on Monday (April 17) he approved the U.S. stance on dealing with North Korea, while the government considers required actions if there is a flow of refugees from the Korean peninsula in case of an escalated conflict.

Abe expressed concern during a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy amid looming concern of another missile or nuclear test by North Korea.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have spiked in recent days amid concerns that Pyongyang could be on the verge of executing its sixth nuclear test and as a United States aircraft carrier-led strike group heads to the region. The Guardian reports there is speculation the country could stage a missile test around the birthday celebration or on April 25, which marks the 85th anniversary of the Korean People's Army.

North Korea responded by denouncing the move as an aggression and threatening a nuclear strike if the USA were to take military action.

Japan is carrying out the necessary preparations to defend Japanese citizens on the Korean peninsula, the prime minister added. It conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9, 2016.

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He tweeted: "North Korea is looking for trouble".

Experts say if North Korea were to attack South Korea, it would likely target Seoul's defenses with chemical and biological weapons dropped from aircraft or delivered via missiles, artillery and grenades.

US-based 38 North, which monitors the secretive communist state, said satellite images taken on Wednesday showed the base was "primed and ready". But the same officials note the US does not have "certainty" on what chemical weapons the North possesses, in what quantities, or whether their chemicals are weaponized, because the North continues to be a "difficult intelligence target".

But Mr Yoshihide Suga, the government's chief spokesman, elaborated later when asked about the comments at a regular briefing.

North Korea was accused of using VX nerve agent in the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. While the north's continued development of nuclear warheads has been a top issue of concern, Abe stressed that the country already had the ability to fire a sarin-tipped missile at Japan.

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