SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean and U.S. troops began naval drills Monday in a show of force partly directed at North Korea amid signs that Pyongyang will soon follow through on a threat to conduct its third atomic test.
North Korea’s state media said Sunday that at a high-level Workers’ Party meeting, leader Kim Jong Un issued “important” guidelines meant to bolster the army and protect national sovereignty. North Korea didn’t elaborate, but Kim’s guidelines likely refer to a nuclear test and suggest that Pyongyang appears to have completed formal procedural steps and is preparing to conduct a nuclear test soon, according to South Korean analyst Hong Hyun-ik.
“We assess that North Korea has almost finished preparations for conducting a nuclear test anytime and all that’s left is North Korea making a political decision” to do so, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters Monday.
The spokesman said he couldn’t disclose further details because they would involve confidential intelligence affairs. Recent satellite photos showed North Korea may have been sealing the tunnel into a mountainside where a nuclear device could be exploded.
Full article: North Korea warns of ‘dark cloud of war’ as South begins naval drills ahead of ‘imminent’ nuclear test (National Post)