News / Asia

Seoul: No Signs of Imminent North Korean Nuclear Test

FILE - North Korean defector Park Sang Hak, right, carries a poster showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un during an anti-North Korea rally near the Unification Observation Post in Paju, South Korea
FILE - North Korean defector Park Sang Hak, right, carries a poster showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un during an anti-North Korea rally near the Unification Observation Post in Paju, South Korea
VOA News
South Korea announced that there are no signs of an imminent nuclear test or missile launch from North Korea, after a purge of senior leadership in Pyongyang raised fears of instability.

However, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae did say that Wednesday that lawmakers in Seoul are closely observing the North, which is believed to be making steady preparations for a fourth nuclear test.

"At the moment, we have not perceived any movement. However, we have been continuously checking and are finding that related facilities are being prepared. But we do not see this as leading to an immediate situation of a launch or a nuclear test," said Ryoo.

Last week, North Korea executed the uncle of leader Kim Jong Un after accusing him of plotting to overthrow the government and a series of other abuses.

Jang Song Thaek had been seen as Kim's second-in-command and mentor following the sudden death of his father, ex-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, in late 2011.

It was a rare admission of disunity within the ranks of the secretive North Korean leadership, and many fear Pyongyang could escalate tensions with the West in order to build internal cohesion.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and earlier this year. All were in violation of U.N. sanctions and received near universal condemnation. The state has also carried out satellite launches that most analysts say are disguised long-range missile tests.

Recent commercial satellite imagery suggest North Korea has restarted a shuttered plutonium reactor and is making preparations at nuclear test and missile launch sites.

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