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Sunday, January 07, 2007

North Korea Said Preparing Second Nuclear Test

U.S. Defense Department officials believe that North Korea is making preparations for a second nuclear test blast, ABC News reported yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 4).

“We think they’ve put everything in place to conduct a test without any notice or warning,” a senior Pentagon official said.

It is not clear yet whether Pyongyang actually plans a follow-up to its last test, however intelligence indicates that preparations being made now are similar to those seen before the Oct. 9 explosion, the official said.

The intelligence was confirmed by two additional senior defense officials. However, the intelligence community is divided on whether North Korea actually plans to detonate another bomb, ABC News reported.

“That would surprise me,” one intelligence official said.

Another expected a test within the next two to three months (Jonathan Karl, ABC News, Jan. 4).

Officials in Japan and South Korea today said they had seen no new indications of an imminent test, the Associated Press reported.

“Some unidentified activities have been detected around a suspected test site but so far there are no particular indications directly linked to an additional nuclear test,” said Cho Hee-yong, spokesman for the South Korean Foreign Ministry.

A spokeswoman at the Japanese Defense Agency and a Western diplomat concurred.

Frequent vehicle and personnel movement at the suspected site is standard, and cannot yet be taken as an indication of a coming test, a South Korean military intelligence official told the Yonhap News Agency. There have been no signs seen of power outlets or communication cables at the site, the official said (Kwang tae-Kim, Associated Press I/Gulfnews.com, Jan. 5).

Tokyo warned Pyongyang against carrying out another test, AP reported.

“We think it is essential that North Korea should stop further nuclear testing and they should abandon all their nuclear programs,” said Nori Shikata, a spokeswoman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry. “If they conduct another nuclear test, then the international community, including Japan, will take additional measures.”

The U.N. Security Council approved economic sanctions against North Korea following the first nuclear test (Hans Greimel, Associated Press II/Yahoo!News, Jan. 5).

Meanwhile, South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon met yesterday in Washington with U.S. officials to discuss the North Korea nuclear standoff and plans for future multilateral negotiations, Yonhap reported.

“They talked about reopening the negotiations at an early time and making substantive progress on North Korea’s denuclearization,” a South Korean aide said following a meeting between Song and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.

Song and outgoing U.S. national intelligence chief John Negroponte (see related GSN story, today) discussed North Korea’s nuclear capability, Yonhap reported. North Korea is not to be acknowledged as a nuclear power, the two officials agreed (Yonhap News Agency, Jan. 5).
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