South Korea Concerned North May be Prepping for Nuke Test, Missile Launch

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S. Korea defense ministry denies claim ‘indication’ N. Korea prepping for fourth nuke test

By Associated Press. A top South Korean official said Monday he misspoke earlier in the day when he told lawmakers there is an “indication” that North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test. But that doesn’t change what Seoul has been saying for months: that Pyongyang has already prepared a tunnel for a nuclear blast and can use it whenever it wants.

When a lawmaker asked whether there was an indication of increased personnel and vehicles at the North’s nuclear test site, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said “there is such an indication.” He said he couldn’t say more because it involved confidential intelligence.

The comments in a parliamentary session were recorded on video, but Ryoo later told lawmakers he couldn’t remember making them and didn’t mean to say them. He said he was “startled” by reports carrying his earlier comments.

A Unification Ministry official said that Ryoo had intended to say that North Korea has long been ready to conduct a nuclear test. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

After Ryoo’s initial comments, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said there are vehicle and personnel activities at the northeastern test site but they are seen as “usual” activities, not an “indication for a nuclear test.” Kim said North Korea can conduct a nuclear test anytime if decides to do so. Read more from this story HERE.

South Korean Official: North May be Preparing to Launch Missile This Week

By Daniel Arkin. A top South Korean government official announced Sunday that North Korea may launch a missile by Wednesday, at which time the North has said it cannot guarantee the safety of diplomats in the capital of Pyongyang.

The official’s warning came three days after South Korea’s government said that the North had moved at least one medium-range Musudan missile with “considerable range” to the nation’s eastern border, possibly to perform a test launch.

“We’re thoroughly preparing for this, leaving all possibilities open,” said Kim Jang-Soo, South Korea’s national security chief, adding that the North’s likely goal is to wrench concessions from Seoul and Washington.

A Musudan missile has an estimated range of up to 2,490 miles, which would make it capable of striking American bases in Guam.

Escalating tensions between the nuclear-armed North and U.S.-aligned South also forced South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to announce Sunday that the body’s chairman had delayed a visit to Washington, according to The Associated Press. Read more from this story HERE.