Space Daily reports:
A North Korean official has apparently told Chinese authorities that the communist state is planning to conduct a third nuclear test in the coming week, a news report said Saturday.
“We’ve heard a North Korean official in Beijing told the Chinese side that the North planned to carry out a nuclear test between January 13-20,” the Joongang Ilbo daily quoted an unidentified Seoul official as saying.
South Korean officials have a policy of not commenting on intelligence matters.
“We’re now stepping up surveillance over the Punggye-ri nuclear test site,” the official said in reference to the North’s only nuclear test site, where tests were carried out in 2006 and 2009.
With the UN Security Council still debating possible sanctions against the North following the launch of a long-range rocket last month, there has been widespread speculation that Pyongyang may carry out a third nuclear test.
Last month a US think-tank citing satellite photos said the North had repaired extensive rain damage at the nuclear test site in the northeast of the country and could conduct a detonation on two weeks’ notice.
The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said satellite photos as recent as December 13 showed Pyongyang was determined to maintain a state of readiness at Punggye-ri.
South Korea’s Unification Minister Yu Woo-Ik told a parliamentary committee last month it was “highly probable” the North would likely follow up the successful rocket launch with another nuclear test.
“Judging from analysis of intelligence, significant preparations have been made,” he said.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee castigated Obama for his policy of appeasement with North Korea after their long-range rocket launch, last month:
The rocket launch, first reported by South Korean authorities, had a stated goal of putting a satellite into orbit. The United States and other countries say the rocket launches are really aimed at testing ballistic missile technology that could be used to carry a nuclear warhead.
“The Obama Administration’s policies of appeasement through proposed talks over the past four years has done nothing to deter North Korean aggression,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “The Administration’s statements that we will prevent the Iranian regime from going nuclear lose all credibility when one observes how North Korea has been able to brazenly flaunt all UN resolutions, sanctions, and appeals for restraint since 1993.”
Ros-Lehtinen is the author of two North Korea sanctions bills.
North Korea’s Recent Missile Launch is Evidence that Communism Still Casts a Long Shadow Over Asia, Ros Lehtinen Says: