North Korea completes preparation for nuclear weapon test: Seoul lawmaker

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 19 2022 02:03 PM

A man watches a news report on a North Korean missile launch at a station in Seoul, South Korea, May 13, 2022. According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, North Korea fired 3 ballistic missile toward the East Sea on May 12. Jeon Heon-Kyun, EPA-EFE
A man watches a news report on a North Korean missile launch at a station in Seoul, South Korea, May 13, 2022. According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, North Korea fired 3 ballistic missile toward the East Sea on May 12. Jeon Heon-Kyun, EPA-EFE

SEOUL — North Korea has completed preparations for a nuclear test and is seeking the best moment to carry it out, a South Korean lawmaker said Thursday, a day before US President Joe Biden is due to arrive in Seoul.

Despite North Korea's recent COVID-19 outbreak, "preparations for a nuclear test have been completed and they are only looking for the right time," lawmaker Ha Tae-keung told reporters after being briefed by Seoul's National Intelligence Service.

The United States said earlier it believes there is a "genuine possibility" that North Korea could conduct a nuclear test while Biden is on his first trip as president to Asia.

Biden will arrive in Seoul late Friday for a series of summits.

"Our intelligence does reflect the genuine possibility" of nuclear-capable missile tests or a nuclear weapon test around the time of Biden's trip, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.

Satellite imagery indicates North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear test, and the United States and South Korea have been warning for weeks that it could come any day.

North Korea announced its first COVID-19 cases last week, and is now reporting hundreds of thousands of cases of "fever" daily, with analysts saying a test could help distract the regime from the outbreak.

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