Is North Korea on the verge of another nuclear test, or not? (+video)
Remarks by a South Korean official led some Seoul-based journalists to write that another nuclear test by North Korea might be imminent. But there's been some backtracking since then.
What’s going on at North Korea’s nuclear test site? The question arises because there’s been some confusion in reports Monday from the Korean Peninsula as to whether Pyongyang is on the verge of a fourth nuclear explosion.
It started during a Monday South Korean parliamentary session when a lawmaker asked Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae whether intelligence officials have noted more personnel and vehicle traffic at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility.
“There is such an indication,” Mr. Ryoo said, according to an Associated Press account.
This led some Seoul-based journalists to write that another nuclear test might be imminent. Bloomberg News reported, for instance, that the detonation of a North Korean nuclear device and a missile test could occur as early as this week.
But Ryoo later said he was “startled” by the way his remarks had been interpreted, and other South Korean officials moved quickly to tamp down the test speculation. A Defense Ministry spokesman said that the North does not appear to be preparing for a detonation in the near future.
“We found there had been no unusual movements that indicated it wanted to carry out a nuclear test,” the ministry spokesperson said.
Timing is the issue under discussion here. The possibility of a fourth test at Punggye-ri has been open for some time.