SEOUL: South Korea’s defence minister said on Thursday that North Korea has completed preparations for another nuclear test, and would also test-launch long-range missiles sometime in the future.
“Many preparations have been made for a third nuclear test,” Kim Kwan-Jin told reporters, adding the timing would depend on “a political decision”.
The communist country carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. Kim also predicted that the North would make another attempt at some time to test-fire a long-range missile, after the failure of its rocket launch in April.
Pyongyang said its intention was to put a peaceful research satellite into orbit, while Washington and its allies saw the exercise as a disguised test of banned ballistic missile technology.
In September, US website 38 North said satellite imagery showed the North had halted work at a site capable of launching intercontinental missiles, possibly setting the project back by up to two years.
The website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said the cause of the work stoppage was unclear, although heavy rain might be a factor.
The new launch pad, being built in the northeast of the country, had been scheduled for completion around 2015, it said.
Even if completion is delayed, Pyongyang could still test longer-range rockets at a northwestern base, the website said. Satellite images showed “refurbishment” underway on an existing mobile launch pad used to test long-range rockets, it said.