The South Korean government believes that North Korea is likely to conduct its seventh nuclear test, following the launch of ballistic missiles. It is predicted that North Korea will adopt a written decision for a nuclear test at a plenary meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea, which is scheduled to be held in the first half of June, and conduct the test soon after the meeting.
“North Korea’s nuclear test is imminent and it is in the final preparation stage,” said Kim Tae-hyo, the first deputy director of the Office of National Security of the presidential office. “It is unlikely that the test will be conducted within a day or two but it is very much possible after that,” he added. “The precise timing of the nuclear test must not have been decided by the North Korean leader himself,” he said. However, he explained that it is likely to be in the final preparation stage to assess the nuclear weapon’s size and performance to see if it measures up to the levels wanted by the country as detonation tests have been continuing for several weeks.
It is expected that the test will take place in the first half of June. North Korea announced that the fifth plenary meeting of the eighth central committee of the Workers' Party of Korea would be held in the first half of June. As North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for an emergency meeting of the standing committee of the Political Bureau in 2017 to approve an order for the sixth nuclear test, a written order for the seventh nuclear test may be adopted at the upcoming plenary meeting.
“Imagery from April 27 through May 14 indicates that the 5 MWe Reactor is still operating, and since late April, there have been a higher-than-normal number of vehicles observed around the reactor and spent fuel storage building,” 38 North, a U.S. media company specialized in North Korea, reported on Tuesday (local time). “By April 27, the edges of that covering appear to have separated. On May 14, a new, blue roof or covering had replaced it.”
Some say that the spread of the COVID-19 virus may be a variable in the timing of the nuclear test. The South Korean National Intelligence Service predicts that COVID-19 in North Korea will peak in late May to early June. As North Korea claims that it is winning in disease control, it might use a nuclear test to address unrest among its residents. “North Korean leader Kim would express his willingness to tackle down both ends – overcoming COVID-19 and strengthening nuclear capabilities – based on confidence he gains from fewer COVID-19 cases,” said Professor Yang Mu-jin of the University of North Korean Studies.
Ji-Sun Choi email@example.com