Exclusive: North Korea’s nuclear test ready “soon”
North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test, a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters, which will draw further international condemnation following a failed rocket launch if it goes ahead.
The isolated and impoverished state sacrificed the chance of closer ties with the United States when it launched the long-range rocket on April 13 and was censured by the U.N. Security Council, including the North’s sole major ally, China.
Critics say the rocket launch was aimed at honing the North’s ability to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States, a move that would dramatically increase its military and diplomatic heft.
Now the North appears to be about to carry out a third nuclear test after two in 2006 and 2009.
Embarrassed by rocket crash, North Korea may try nuclear test
North Korea said its much hyped long-range rocket launch failed on Friday, in a very rare and embarrassing public admission of failure by the hermit state and a blow for its new young leader who faces international outrage over the attempt.
The isolated North, using the launch to celebrate the 100th birthday of the dead founding president Kim Il-sung and to mark the rise to power of his grandson Kim Jong-un, is now widely expected to press ahead with its third nuclear test to show its military strength.
“The possibility of an additional long-range rocket launch or a nuclear test, as well as a military provocation to strengthen internal solidarity is very high,” a senior South Korean defense ministry official told a parliamentary hearing.
READ MORE: North Korea may try nuclear test next
A majority of Americans would support military action against Iran if there were evidence that Tehran is building nuclear weapons, even if such action led to higher gasoline prices, a Reuters/Ipsos polled showed on Tuesday.
The poll showed 62 percent of Americans would back Israel taking military action against Iran for the same reasons.
U.S. President Barack Obama has said all options are on the table in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
On Thursday, US regulators approved plans to build the first new nuclear power plant in more than 30 years, despite objections of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, who cited safety concerns stemming from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster.
The graphic above shows the locations of the 104 nuclear power plants in the US. It also provides some statistics about nuclear power worldwide. [Graphic: REUTERS]
Iran is threatening to respond to any U.S. aggression in a crushing manner amid heightened tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.
“We will respond to any threat or aggressive action in a crushing manner,” spokesman Massoud Jazayeri said. “Our response will definitely lead them to regret their actions. We hope that this doesn’t happen. If it does happen, however, history will prove whether it is Iran or the U.S. that just talks.”
Iran did not carry out an earlier threat to take action if the U.S. moved an aircraft carrier into the Gulf when the U.S. did so last week. [Report by Lindsey Parietti]
A grand bargain would serve everyone, which is why both countries have tried to put aside tensions and strike a deal. So why are the U.S. and Iran perpetually stuck in confrontation? Read more. [Images: Reuters]