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Pyongyang finishes preparations for sixth nuclear test

Posted September. 13, 2016 07:29,   

Updated September. 13, 2016 07:30


The intelligence authorities of South Korea and the U.S. have detected the trace of a completed preparation by North Korea for a nuclear test at the third shaft of the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility in Northern Hamgyong Province.

The South Korean military authorities are closely monitoring the North, under the suspicion that Pyongyang might press ahead with a series of simultaneous nuclear tests around the foundation day of the Workers’ Party (Oct. 10) like the case of Pakistan. In 1998, Pakistan conducted a total six nuclear tests on May 28 (five times) and May 30 (one time).

“It appears that the North has made the necessary preparation to conduct a nuclear test at any time of choice in the third shaft, which is the only site not used for a nuclear test among the three shafts at the facility,” said a military official. Pyeongyang used the first shaft for its first nuclear test, and the second one for its second, third, and fourth nuclear tests.

“If North Korea is to conduct an additional nuclear test, any branch of the second shaft or the third shaft can be used as a venue immediately,” said Mun Sang-gyun, the spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense, during a regular briefing. Presenting himself at the National Defense Committee convened on Friday when the North conducted the fifth nuclear test, Defense Minister Han Min-gu said, “(The ministry) is of a view that the North is prepared to conduct more tests in another shaft (at Punggye-ri).”

The military authorities of South Korea and the U.S. are holding the view that the North hinted at an upcoming round of nuclear test when it mentioned that the regime would continue to strength the quality and quantity of its national nuclear power after the announcement of its fifth nuclear test. Some are warning against the possibility of the North engaging in a cascade of nuclear tests like Pakistan did in 1998. Analysts say that the latest moves from Pyeongyang are aimed at quickly pressuring the international community into recognizing the regime as a “de facto nuclear state” by showing off maximum levels of nuclear armament capacities.

윤상호군사전문기자 ysh1005@donga.com