North Korea in full nuclear test, according to Seoul

North Korea has tested a “nuclear detonation device”, a senior South Korean presidential official said on Wednesday, adding that a nuclear test may be imminent.

“Tests of a nuclear detonation device in preparation for a seventh nuclear test are now detected,” said Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of the National Security Bureau.

These experiments are being conducted away from the main nuclear test site, which is closely guarded by Seoul, he added. “The North Korean authorities are about to reach the final stage of preparation for a nuclear test of the desired scale and quality,” Kim Tae-hyo told reporters.

In the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic

Although North Korea is grappling with a recent deadly wave of Covid-19, new satellite images indicate Pyongyang has resumed construction of a long-dormant nuclear reactor. Seoul and Washington have warned for several weeks that Pyongyang could carry out a seventh nuclear test, which would be the first since 2017.

North Korea on Wednesday carried out test firings of three missiles, including a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), just days after US President Joe Biden left South Korea on Sunday. “The first launch was deemed to be of the new ICBM, the Hwasong-17,” Kim Tae-hyo said, referring to the largest intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea has ever unsuccessfully attempted to test.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has recently stepped up his military modernization program, conducting nearly 20 weapons tests since the start of the year.

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