The likelihood of North Korea conducting a fifth nuclear test, possibly within weeks, has increased because of a failed missile launch on Friday that was an embarrassing setback for leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean officials and international experts said.
North Korea holds a ruling Workers Party congress in early May, at which Kim is likely to trumpet his achievements in building up Pyongyang’s weapons prowess. South Korean officials and experts say he will be keen to go into the congress with a show of strength, and not a failed rocket launch.
“North Korea is capable of conducting an additional nuclear test at any time if there is a decision by Kim Jong Un,” said a senior South Korean official involved in national security policies involving the North, its bitter rival.
When asked if the failed missile launch had increased the possibility that Kim would order a nuclear test, the official said the North is likely to “engage in additional provocations.”
“Such a nuclear test and the missile launch believed to be a failure this morning are both among the provocations that North Korea would have reasonably tried,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the media on the matter.
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Image courtesy of KCNA