North Korea has tested a “nuclear explosive device,” a senior South Korean presidential official said Wednesday, adding that a nuclear test could be imminent.
U.S. and South Korean officials have warned for weeks that Pyongyang could conduct a seventh nuclear test and on Wednesday it tested three missiles, including its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-17.
The latest launch comes just days after US President Joe Biden left South Korea on Sunday.
Despite battling the recent Covid-19 outbreak, the isolated country has begun rebuilding into a long-dormant nuclear reactor, new satellite images indicate.
“Operational tests of a nuclear detonation device are now being identified in preparation for the Seventh Nuclear Test,” said Kim Ta-hyo, the first deputy director of the National Security Office.
The tests are being conducted away from the North’s main nuclear test site, which is being closely monitored by Seoul, he said.
Kim told reporters that “North Korean authorities are in the final stages of preparing for a nuclear test of the scale and quality of their choice.”
“The chances of an impending nuclear test in the next couple of days are slim, but after that, there is certainly a possibility,” he added.
The president’s office did not provide further details on the blast device.
Hours after Pyongyang fired, Kim’s remarks came in Seoul, which said it had three ballistic missiles, including at least one ICBM.
He said “it has been judged that the first launch was the new ICBM, Hwasong-17”, which North Korea had previously tried unsuccessfully to test.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently doubled his military modernization program, with the nuclear-armed country conducting about 20 prohibition-carrying weapons tests this year.
Analysts have warned that Kim could accelerate plans for a nuclear test to confuse North Korea’s population with a catastrophic coronavirus outbreak.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)