REUTERS: North Korea is ready to conduct an additional nuclear test at any time, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said on Monday, three days after the reclusive North’s fifth test drew widespread condemnation.
Pyongyang set off its most powerful nuclear blast to date on Friday, saying it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile and ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations have been powerless to contain.
“Assessment by South Korean and U.S. intelligence is that the North is always ready for an additional nuclear test in the Punggye-ri area,” the site of the North’s five nuclear explosions, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a news briefing.
“North Korea has a tunnel where it can conduct an additional nuclear test,” Moon said.
South Korea is pushing for more sanctions against Pyongyang to close what it says were loopholes left in the last United Nations Security Council resolution adopted in March.
Both China and Russia backed sanctions imposed in March following the North’s January nuclear test, but their apparent ambivalence about fresh sanctions cast doubt on the Security Council’s ability to quickly form a consensus.
“We expect that China, as one of the Security Council member states, should take this issue seriously and play a very constructive role to come up with a very effective and strong sanctions resolution,” a South Korean foreign ministry official said.