South Korea says North Korea may conduct new type of nuclear test

An undated photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency.
An undated photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - North Korea may be preparing for a new kind of nuclear test, the South Korean military was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency on Thursday (March 30).

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reaffirmed its assessment that the unpredictable regime appears ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test at any time on the leadership's decision.

"Considering various possibilities, (we) are closely tracking and monitoring (the North's move) in cooperation with the United States," Army Colonel Roh Jae Cheon, a spokesman for the JCS, was quoted as saying.

The South's military does not rule out the possibility of the North pushing for a "different type of nuclear test from the past", he added.

A series of reports suggest that Pyongyang is edging closer to detonating a bomb at its Punggye-ri nuclear site.

In particular, fresh satellite imagery of the northeastern area shows up to 100 people gathered near the key facilities, according to the 38 North website carrying news on North Korea. The website earlier reported on vehicles and communication equipment recently spotted at the site.

North Korea watchers raise the possibility that the North will carry out a "Pakistan-type" test. Pakistan blasted six nuclear bombs all using different materials on May 28 and 30 in 1999 in an apparent to bid to collect data as comprehensively as possible.