N Korea may be close to nuclear test - South

2014-04-22 08:01
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - North Korea could well be preparing to carry out a fourth nuclear test, South Korea said on Tuesday, citing increased activity at its main test site just days ahead of a visit to Seoul by US President Barack Obama.

"Our military is currently detecting a lot of activity in and around the Punggye-ri nuclear test site," defence ministry spokesperson Kim Min-Seok told a press briefing.

Kim stressed that North Korea's nuclear weapons programme was at a stage where it could conduct a test "at any moment" once the order was given by the leadership in Pyongyang.

North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests - in 2006, 2009 and 2013 - all at the Punggye-ri site in the northeast of the country.

Kim declined to give details of the monitored activity, but cautioned that it may be no more than a "deception tactic" to raise tensions ahead of Obama's visit which is due to begin on Friday.

"We are thinking of possibilities that the North may stage a surprise nuclear test or just pretend to stage a nuclear test," Kim said.

‘New form’

Obama is visiting Seoul as part of an Asia tour, and there has been widespread speculation that the North may stage a provocation to coincide with the trip.

Kim said the South Korean and US militaries were closely sharing intelligence and Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff had set up a special task force in case Pyongyang goes ahead with an underground detonation.

"We plan to thoroughly prepare for a fourth nuclear test or any other form of provocation," Kim said.

On Monday, Pyongyang slammed Obama's upcoming trip as a "dangerous" move that would escalate military tension and bring the "dark clouds of a nuclear arms race" over the Korean peninsula.

Several analysts said they were sceptical that North Korea would carry out a test at the current time, and said Pyongyang was just seeking to rattle a few cages during the Obama visit.

Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said a test now would risk permanently alienating the North's only major ally and chief economic benefactor, China.

"It would be a huge slap in the face for China and North Korea may not feel confident enough to deal with the backlash from Beijing," Yang said.

A nuclear test would extinguish any chance of a resumption of six-country talks on North Korea's nuclear programme that China has been pushing for.

Other parties to the stalled discussions - most notably a sceptical South Korea and the US - insist Pyongyang must first make a tangible step towards denuclearisation.

"The diplomatic backlash from another nuclear test might be hard for the North to cope with," agreed Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korean expert at DongGuk University.

"I think this is more likely North Korea posturing to get some international attention," Kim said.

The North warned late last month that it would not rule out a "new form" of nuclear test after the UN Security Council condemned its latest series of medium-range missile launches.

Experts saw this as a possible reference to testing a uranium-based device or a miniaturised warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.
Read more on:    un  |  barack obama  |  south korea  |  north korea  |  north korea nuclear programme
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

Christmas lingerie to make this festive season the best one ever!
13 things you might not know about Disneyland
The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is so much going on around you and inside your head. You may want to take your ideas to the next level. Romance may be...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.