North Korea ready for a nuclear test

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North Korea has completed preparations for a nuclear test and could carry it out at any time, a South Korean lawmaker warned Thursday, and the United States warned it could take place during President Joe Biden's visit to Seoul.

Despite the recent wave of Covid-19 in North Korea, "the preparations for a nuclear test have been completed and they are just looking for the right time" to carry it out, MK Ha Tae-keung told reporters, citing intelligence reports Seoul National Information Service.

There is a "real possibility" that North Korea will choose to mount a "provocation" after Joe Biden arrived in Seoul on Friday night for his first trip to Asia as president, one of his advisers said.

That could mean "new missile tests, long-range missile tests, or a nuclear test, or both" before, during or after Biden's tour of the region, said Jake Sullivan, the House national security adviser. White.

Satellite images have shown signs of new activity in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Pyongyang had claimed to have demolished this seat in 2018 ahead of a historic summit between Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump, the start of a phase of dialogue that has since stalled.

"Divert attention"

Kim Jong Un's regime is battling a surge in Covid, with nearly two million "fever" cases reported, but Washington and Seoul say they have not questioned Pyongyang's plan to carry out a nuclear test, which would be its seventh.

Leader Kim Jong Un may try to distract North Koreans from the growing health crisis by conducting a nuclear test, analysts say.

"North Korea will want to draw the world's attention by conducting a nuclear test during President Biden's visit to South Korea and Japan," Cheong Seong-chang of the North Korea Center for Nuclear Studies at the Sejong Institute told AFP. Seoul.

Biden lands in South Korea on Friday for his first summit with the country's new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office last week.

Under international sanctions, North Korea has dramatically stepped up missile tests this year, while ignoring US negotiation offers.

The country had ceased launching intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear tests in 2017. It has already partially broken this moratorium by firing an intercontinental missile at the end of March.

Talks stalled since failed Trump-Kim summit

The talks have stalled since the failed Trump-Kim summit in 2019, with Kim Jong Un recently declaring his intention to build his nuclear arsenal "as soon as possible."

Part of the blame for this lies with North Korea's President Biden's "strategic carelessness" since he took office, said Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

"There is no way to really stop North Korea now," he added.

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