U.S. seeks $700,000 in assets of ex-Korean strongman

Lawmaker: N. Korea showing signs of preparations for nuclear test, rocket launch

Lawmaker: N. Korea showing signs of preparations for nuclear test, rocket launch

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Published : 2013-12-17 10:29
Updated : 2013-12-17 10:29

A ranking member of South Korea's parliamentary intelligence committee said Tuesday North Korea is showing signs of preparations to carry out its fourth nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch.

Rep. Cho Won-jin of the ruling Saenuri Party made the remark during a party meeting, saying the communist nation is trying to shift domestic attention from the execution of leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, Jang Song-thaek, to external issues.

Cho, the leader of ruling party members on the National Assembly's intelligence committee, provided no further specifics.

Last month, Vice Defense Minister Baek Seung-joo told a parliamentary meeting that North Korea is believed to be ready to conduct a nuclear test at its Punggye-ri test site in the country's northeast at any time, though there were no signs of an imminent test.

North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests so far, the first in 2006, second in 2009 and third in February. Pyongyang has also carried out a series of long-range rocket launches, including the latest one in December last year, in a widely believed attempt to develop nuclear missiles.

Pyongyang has said its rocket launches were for peaceful purposes.

The execution of Jang, long considered the second most powerful man in the North, has sparked fears of instability in the totalitarian nation and concerns that the country could try to escalate tensions with the outside world to strengthen internal unity.

On Monday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye ordered the government to make preparations for all possible contingencies and the military to beef up its vigilance, warning that the North could attempt "reckless provocations." (Yonhap News)

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