“We are closely watching the situation with the possibility of North Korea carrying out an underground nuclear test given the present circumstances,” said ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun during a regular press briefing.
It will be Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test, and the first since U.N. Security Council’s strongest-ever sanctions against the previous one in January.
|Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun (Yonhap)|
In a meeting with senior secretaries, South Korean President Park Geun-hye also warned of the reclusive state’s additional nuclear detonation.
“Under the current situation we are not aware of what type of provocation North Korea will commit in order to evade isolation and unite internally,” Park said, calling for airtight military readiness.
Defense Minister Han Min-koo said last week that the test could involve an underground detonation of a missile-capable nuclear device or a warhead detonation without the use of nuclear materials.
North Korea claims to have achieved significant development in its nuclear capabilities including the miniaturization of a nuclear warhead and developing a warhead fit for atmospheric reentry.
On March 15, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for a nuclear warhead detonation test to increase the reliability of the country’s nuclear strike capabilities.
The South Korean ministry has been providing daily updates on Pyongyang’s presumed movements, saying Sunday that work appears to be continuing at the North’s nuclear site as Pyongyang celebrates the birthday of its late founding father on April 15 and before the party congress next month.
Intelligence sources cited increased movements of vehicles, workforce and equipment around the Punggyeri test site.