Exclusive report by Reuters reports that North Korea is almost ready for a third nuclear test, a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing said. The third test will surely draw international attention and condemnation after their failed rocket launch earlier this month.
The United States withdrew humanitarian aid to North Korea after their failed rocket launch on April 13. Subsequently North Korea was censured by the U.S. Security County including their only ally China.
Now the North appears to be about to carry out a third nuclear test after two in 2006 and 2009.
"Soon. Preparations are almost complete," the source told Reuters when asked whether North Korea was planning to conduct a nuclear test.
This is the first time a senior official has confirmed the planned test and the source has correctly predicted events in the past, telling Reuters about the 2006 test days before it happened.
“Kim took office in December and has lauded the country's military might, reaffirming his father's "military first" policies that have stunted economic development and appearing to dash slim hopes of an opening to the outside world.
With the U.S., South Korea and Japan under the most intense threat of nuclear attack, observers say the North Koreans may have the ability to conduct a test using highly enriched uranium for the first time.
U.S. Defense Secretary, speaking to reporters during a trip to Brasilia, said he had no specific information on whether North Korea would go ahead with a test.
"But I again would strongly urge them not to engage in any kind of provocation - be it nuclear testing or any other act - that would provide greater instability in a dangerous part of the world," he said.
The source did not specify whether the test would be a third test using plutonium, of which it has limited stocks, or whether Pyongyang would use uranium, and that predicting a date is speculation.
The rocket launch and the planned nuclear test have exposed the limits of China's hold over Pyongyang. Beijing is the North's sole major ally and props up the state with investment and fuel.
"China is like a chameleon toward North Korea," said Kim Young-soo, professor of political science at Sogang University in Seoul. "It says it objects to North Korea's provocative acts, but it does not participate in punishing the North."
Reports have suggested that a Chinese company may have supplied a rocket launcher shown off at a military parade to mark this month's centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the state's founder, something that may be in breach of UN sanctions.
China has denied breaching sanctions.
Read complete report here.