South Korea’s intelligence chief said North Korea could test a nuclear weapon ahead of President Biden’s visit to Seoul.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) head Park Jie-won said today North Korea has the possibility of conducting a nuclear test between May 10 and 21, the period between the inauguration of new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and on The eve of his summit with US President Joe Biden.
Washington last week evaluated Pyongyang’s move to prepare for a nuclear test at the Punggye-ri facility. US officials have noted repair work in the third tunnel and predicted the test will take place in May or later.
Park Jie-won said tunnel number three in Punggye-ri is designed for small nuclear devices. The tunnel was used by North Korea for a series of underground nuclear tests before being shut down in 2018.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi also warned that North Korea could complete preparations for a nuclear test as early as this month and carry out “provocative actions” in the future.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un pledged last week to speed up the development of his nuclear arsenal amid stalled negotiations with the United States. “North Korea’s nuclear forces must always be ready to conduct special missions and demonstrate unprecedented deterrence at any time,” Kim said.
The new South Korean president pledged to quickly mobilize resources to counter North Korea’s moves and build a practical deterrent against the threat of nuclear missiles from the north once his term begins, according to Mr. Kim Sung-han, candidate for the post of national security adviser Mr. Yoon.
If predictions by the US and its allies come true, it will be the seventh nuclear test in the peninsula’s history and the first time North Korea has activated a nuclear device since September 2017.
Surname (Corresponding Reuters)