Will North Korea Test Another Nuke Before the Midterms?
The United States and its allies have been warning North Korea against a possible test.
North Korea has not yet launched a nuclear test, but U.S. officials believe that one may very well take place soon, possibly prior to the midterm elections next month.
According to Yonhap News Service, State Department Press Secretary Ned Price addressed that possibility in a press briefing this week.
"Our concern regarding the potential for another North Korean nuclear test, which would be its seventh, has been consistent for some time now. We assess that the DPRK is preparing its Punggye-ri test site for what would be its seventh test," Price said in the briefing, per Yonhap.
"We are preparing for all contingencies in close coordination with our partners and allies around the world … we are prepared to make both short- and longer-term adjustments to our military posture as appropriate in responding to DPRK provocation and as necessary to strengthen both defense and deterrence to protect our allies in the region.”
The National Security Council has also expressed similar concerns.
"We have been consistently concerned about North Korean provocations. It's not just because they have accelerated missile launches, for instance, in the last few weeks. It's been a consistent concern of ours, which is why several months ago, again, we added some intelligence capabilities off the Korean Peninsula to help us get a little bit better insight,” NSC spokesman John Kirby said in a press briefing. “We have said that the North Koreans could conduct the nuclear test at any time. We still believe that's the case.”
Meanwhile, per Reuters, the United States and its allies have been warning North Korea against a possible test.
“We agreed that an unparalleled scale of response would be necessary if North Korea pushes ahead with a seventh nuclear test,” South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong said this week while visiting Japan. Cho stood onstage with Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
“Anything that happens here, such as a North Korean nuclear test ... has implications for the security of the entire world,” Sherman said at the same event. “We hope indeed that everyone on the Security Council would understand that any use of a nuclear weapon will change the world in incredible ways.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last month called North Korea’s nuclear status “irreversible” and claimed a new law both allows it to use nuclear weapons and bars denuclearization talks.
“The utmost significance of legislating nuclear weapons policy is to draw an irretrievable line so that there can be no bargaining over our nuclear weapons,” Kim said in a speech last month, as reported by the Guardian.
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.