South Korea has warned that if North Korea goes ahead with an intercontinental ballistic missile launch, it will constitute a major breach of international sanctions, and therefore, will be met with fierce retaliation.
"If North Korea ignores our warning and goes through with its ICBM launch, it will face even stronger and more resolute sanctions from the global community. We will also make North Korea pay dearly for its actions."
Seoul's defense ministry spokesperson went on to say that South Korea is aware that 2017 holds a special meaning for North Korea which is why Seoul is expecting a series of provocations on certain dates deemed celebratory for Pyongyang.
North Korea marks 2017 as the 75th year since former leader Kim Jong-il's birth, and the 105th year since the birth of Kim Il-sung, founder of the regime.
Experts speculate the regime could use these events as an opportunity to showcase its military prowess.
The South Korean military also shared its analysis that North Korea is now capable of test-firing its KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as its new KN-14 missiles from its road-mobile launch systems.
Footage of the transports has been shown in the past, but the system has never been flight tested.
Until recently, it was believed that the North only had the capability to launch ICBMs from stationary launch systems.
As for why Pyongyang continues to provoke Washington and the global community, Seoul's unification ministry says it's seeking to pressure the incoming Trump administration and instigate a change in its North Korea policy.
The North has said before that it will put an end to its nuclear tests if the U.S. stops its regular military drills with South Korea.
"If North Korea does decide to test-fire its first ICBM, experts say the launch could take place as early as next month, ahead of an annual set of military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. in March.
Kim Jung-soo, Arirang News."