North Korea completes preparations for another nuclear test (South Korea)

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South Korea’s top diplomat said on Monday that North Korea has completed preparations for a new nuclear test and only a political decision by the country’s top leaders could prevent it from moving forward.

After speaking with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said the North would pay the price if it proceeded, as feared, with what would be its seventh nuclear test in the coming days.

“North Korea has completed preparations for another nuclear test and I think only a political decision needs to be made,” Park said. By Monday, US and South Korean officials had only said the North was close to completing those preparations.

“If North Korea ventures into another nuclear test, I think that will only strengthen our deterrence as well as international sanctions,” Park said. “North Korea should change its mind and make the right decision.”

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Other than sanctions, Park didn’t specify the price the North would pay or explain how the deterrence policy would change, but Blinken said the United States and treaty allies South Korea and Japan could adjust. their military postures in response.

“We are preparing for all eventualities in very close coordination with others and we are ready to make short and long term adjustments to our military posture,” Blinken said. He added that in addition, “the pressure will be maintained, it will continue and, if necessary, it will be increased”.

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin speaks during a press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, Monday, June 13, 2022. (Roberto Schmidt/Pool via AP)
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South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin speaks during a press conference with Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington, Monday, June 13, 2022. (Roberto Schmidt/Pool via AP)
((Roberto Schmidt/Pool via AP))

Park’s and Blinken’s men stressed that the door to negotiations without preconditions remains open for North Korea. But Blinken, echoing comments made by many US officials in recent days, lamented that North Korea continues to ignore overtures to dialogue.

North Korea on Sunday tested what appeared to be seaward artillery shells, according to the South Korean military, days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for greater defense capability to deal with external threats.

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The North’s artillery tests attract less outside attention than its missile launches, of which it has carried out more so far this year than in any previous year. But its forward-deployed long-range artillery guns pose a serious threat to the security of South Korea’s populous metropolitan area, which is only 40-50 kilometers (25-30 miles) from the border with North Korea.

The alleged artillery launches were the latest in a series of weapons tests by North Korea this year in what foreign experts call an attempt to pressure rivals Washington and Seoul to ease sanctions against Pyongyang and make further concessions.

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In March, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile test capable of reaching the continental United States in violation of a 2018 moratorium on testing large missiles.

A possible new nuclear test by North Korea would be the seventh of its kind. Some experts say North Korea will likely use the test to build warheads to mount on tactical nuclear weapons aimed at hitting targets in South Korea.

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