The United States And Its Allies Believe North Korea Is Planning Future Nuclear Tests To Improve Its Arsenal.

SEOUL, South KoreaAs both US and South Korean officials and analysts, there are rising signals that North Korea would test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017, in a move to strengthen its arsenal and boost political pressure.

US officials told Reuters that there were signals that Pyongyang was planning a test, including activity near the Punggye-ri nuclear site, though the specific schedule was unknown.

 

A South Korean military official said that activity to rebuild one of the nuclear test tunnels was being monitored.

 

This week, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby refused to respond but said the US is concerned about the possibilities of even more tests because they would provide North Korea with an opportunity to strengthen its arsenal.

 

“Every time you test you learn…. We know that this is a program that they want to improve,” he told the press on Tuesday, March 28. “And so of course, we’re concerned about efforts to do that.”

 

More testing, according to analysts, might help North Korea achieve its stated aim of smaller nuclear bombs and improved reliability.

 

China’s representative for Korean affairs, Liu Xiaoming, has urged all parties to exercise control but claims that the root of this problem is Washington’s refusal to address North Korea’s genuine security concerns and reciprocate Pyongyang’s actions since 2018.

 

On Thursday, March 31, State Department spokesperson Ned Price stated that the United States remains open to negotiations, but that ongoing provocations by North Korea would result in greater international actions.

 

North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests in Punngye-ri, a deep tunnel dug beneath the mountains. It used explosives to seal historic entrances in front of invited foreign media in 2018, but not international experts, raising doubts about the demolition’s scope.

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