In an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, North Korea told its neighbor China that it’s planning to stage one or two additional nuclear tests this year.
A Reuters source said that further testing could also transpire alongside another rocket launch. The source is reported to have direct access to the highest levels of government in both Beijing and Pyongyang.
North Korea completed its third nuclear test on Thursday spurring an even greater amount of concern about the country’s intentions.
On Tuesday, following an emergency meeting convened by South Korea, the United Nations Security Council issued an undisputed condemnation of the country’s nuclear testing — the third provocation since 2006.
“It’s all ready. A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year,” the Reuters source said. The source also said that the fourth nuclear test would be quite a bit larger than the third, or roughly equivalent to an explosion of 10 kilotons of TNT. To put that in perspective, “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, had a destructive force (blast yield) of 16 kilotons.
According to The Globe and Mail, Kim Sung-hwan, South Korean foreign minister, called the testing a “clear threat to international peace and security” and issued a warning that the council would take “appropriate measures.”
Unless Washington holds talks with North Korea and revises its policy toward the country, the test will continue as planned.
South Korea’s initial estimates of this week’s testing predict that North Korea’s yield sits around six to seven kilotons, but a final review may be weeks away.
North Korea is banned under U.N. sanctions from developing any missile or nuclear technology — a result of the country’s 2006 and 2009 nuclear testing.
It seems that North Korea has done its very best to make things difficult. President Obama responded to the country’s test this week by reaffirming that the “nuclear umbrella” provided to South Korea by the United States was very much still in place.