News / Asia

South Korea: North Believed to be Preparing for 4th Nuclear Test

FILE - Satellite image provided by GeoEye shows the area around the Yongbyon nuclear facility in Yongbyon, North Korea.
FILE - Satellite image provided by GeoEye shows the area around the Yongbyon nuclear facility in Yongbyon, North Korea.
— Speculation is growing that North Korea is planning to conduct an underground nuclear test to coincide with President Obama’s visit to the peninsula this week.
 
South Korea’s foreign minister is warning the North not to carry out a fourth nuclear test. Speaking at an international forum in Seoul, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se remarked: “If North Korea goes ahead with another nuclear test as it has publicly warned, it will be a game changer.”
 
Daniel Pinkston, the Northeast Asia deputy project director for the International Crisis Group, said Pyongyang is unlikely to worry about the South’s reaction.
 
“They’ve demonstrated a long dedication, persistence and resolve to dedicate a lot of resources over a long period of time. They’ve been able to bear the international pressure and sanctions and everything else. So I think it’s a clear indication that the nuclear program is very important to the leadership and so I don’t expect them to stop or reverse course,” said Pinkston.
 
Officials in Seoul said they are preparing for the North to conduct its fourth nuclear test or some other provocation to coincide with President Barack Obama’s two-day visit to South Korea, which begins Friday.
 
That day will also mark the anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s army.  But some analysts, like Pinkston, expect that because military leaders will be celebrating with banquets and other events, the test would likely occur on another day.
 
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense says it is on an around-the-clock alert after detecting activity at the southern tunnel of the Punggye-ri testing site in North Korea.
 
Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for South Korea’s defense ministry, said intelligence matters make it difficult to reveal precisely the activities detected at Punggye-ri, but numerous activities there lead analysts to believe the North could conduct a nuclear test within a short period of time.
 
Kim added that there is a possibility the North is trying to merely act like it is making preparations, as it has done in the past. To determine whether it is deception or real, Kim said, South Korea and the United States are sharing information about what they are detecting.
 
North Korea’s previous underground explosions were carried out in 2006, 2009 and last year, in defiance of warnings from the international community. All took place at Punggye-ri in a remote eastern part of the country.
 
South Korea’s defense ministry spokesman said the military top brass are thoroughly prepared for a fourth one to occur at any time.
 
Kim said the ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff established on Monday a crisis management task force in order to strengthen the military readiness posture in anticipation of a North Korean nuclear test.
 
Pyongyang threatened last month to carry out a new type of nuclear test. It gave no details.
 
In 2010, North Korea unveiled a uranium enrichment program that would give it a steady fuel supply for a nuclear arsenal. After the 2013 test, analysts said they were unable to determine if the North had used highly enriched uranium as the fuel. The first two tests were believed to have been fueled by the country’s small plutonium stockpile.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
April 22, 2014 1:20 PM
For "defensive" reasons, North Korea needs nuclear weapons..
North Korea doesn't possess the military capabilities to launch an "offensive" assault.. -- (Possess a big stick, to ward off the mad dogs?)..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid