South Korea says Nord has completed preparations for a new nuclear test

WASHINGTON – South Korea’s top diplomat said Monday that North Korea has completed preparations for a new nuclear test and that only a political decision by the country’s top leadership could prevent it.

After talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said the North will pay a price if it carries out its seventh nuclear test in the coming days, as feared.

“North Korea has completed preparations for another nuclear test and I think only a political decision needs to be made,” Park said. Before Monday, US and South Korean officials had said only that the North was close to completing such preparations.

“If North Korea dares another nuclear test, I think that will only strengthen our deterrence and international sanctions as well,” Park said. “North Korea should change its mind and make the right decision.”

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Aside from the sanctions, Park didn’t say what price the North would pay or outline how deterrence policies would change, but Blinken said the United States and treaty allies South Korea and Japan could adjust their military stance in response.

“We are preparing for all eventualities in very close coordination with others and stand ready to make both short-term and longer-term adjustments to our military posture,” Blinken said. He added that “the pressure will be maintained, continued and increased if necessary”.

Both Park and Blinken men stressed that North Korea is open to negotiations without preconditions. But Blinken echoed comments made by numerous US officials in recent days, lamenting that North Korea continues to ignore offers of dialogue.

On Sunday, North Korea appeared to have fired artillery shells at the sea, according to the South Korean military, days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for greater defense capabilities to deal with outside threats.

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The North’s artillery tests draw less outside attention than its missile launches, of which it has conducted more this year than any previous year. But its long-range forward artillery pieces pose a serious security threat to South Korea’s populous metropolitan area, which is just 40 to 50 kilometers from the border with North Korea.

The alleged artillery launches were the latest in a series of North Korean weapons tests this year, which foreign experts say are trying to pressure rivals Washington and Seoul to relax international sanctions on Pyongyang and make other concessions.

In March, North Korea tested an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland, violating a 2018 moratorium on large-scale missile tests.

A possible new nuclear test by North Korea would be the seventh of its kind. Some experts say North Korea will likely use the test to build warheads to be mounted on tactical nuclear weapons aimed at hitting targets in South Korea.

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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/13/south-korea-says-north-completed-prep-for-new-nuclear-test/ South Korea says Nord has completed preparations for a new nuclear test

Sarah Y. Kim

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