Pyongyang may conduct what would be its seventh nuclear test around the time new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and President Biden meet in Seoul for a summit set for Saturday or soon afterward, South Korean military officials warned Monday.
A government official briefing reporters on background told The Korea Times that the test could happen in a “short period of time.”
“Our military is bracing for the worst-case scenario of the North conducting a nuclear test in a short period of time and it is maintaining a firm readiness posture,” the official said.
Officials in Seoul told reporters the North Korean regime has made “considerable” preparations for a test at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site. According to The Korea Times, government officials have detected signs of such preparations since March.
While the country could press ahead with a nuclear test based on its own timetables, North Korea has been struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreaks with a “maximum emergency” virus control system around the country.
Mr. Biden will make his first trip to Asia since taking office last year. He will meet Mr. Yoon, a conservative narrowly elected in March, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and attend a summit in Tokyo of the “Quad” group of regional democracies — the U.S., Australia, Japan and India, with containing both China and North Korea expected to be high on the agenda for the talks.