North Korea has not conducted a nuclear test since 2017, following a self-imposed moratorium. But amid rising tensions, and a series of missile launches so far this year, the regime has made noises about bringing that moratorium to an end.
In fact, the North Koreans said in January that they were considering “restarting all temporally suspended activities,” the regime said via the state-owned news agency KCNA in January.
A former South Korean government official now says a new North Korean nuclear test could be coming soon.
Per the Yonhap News Agency, former National Intelligence Service (NIS) director Park Jie-won sees North Korea launching a nuclear test ahead of the U.S. midterm elections in November.
"They are going to do it in order to demonstrate a threat that its missile can fly to the U.S. carrying a miniaturized and lighter warhead, and to deal a blow to the Joe Biden administration ahead of the midterm elections," Park said in an interview with KBS Radio, per Yonhap.
Such a test would likely be seen as retaliation against the military exercises the United States recently began with South Korea.
"Chairman Kim Jong-un is not going to overlook it as if nothing happened," the ex-official said.
South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol recently made a proposal to offer economic aid to North Korea, as part of a deal to encourage denuclearization.
“The audacious initiative that I envision will significantly improve North Korea’s economy and its people’s livelihoods in stages if the North ceases the development of its nuclear program and embarks on a genuine and substantive process for denuclearization,” Yoon said in a speech to mark his one-hundredth day in office.
The North Korean regime did not react positively, at least according to a statement posted to the state-run KCNA news service under the name of Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. She called the proposal from the South Korean president “an absurd dream.”
“In his situation where he is losing the public support, it would have been better if he had never presented himself on that occasion,” Kim Yo Jong said in that response. “I'm only saying this today because the south seems to be very eager to know of our reaction and not because I'm concerned of Yoon's situation, as even a mere child would know.”
“If he had really wanted to take the platform, I'm curious to know how much effort he had put in to his speech to be unable to say anything that would save his dignity,” she added.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.