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‘NK could stage military provocation in Oct.’

Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. (123rf)
Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea. (123rf)
Provided the COVID-19 outbreak is under control by October, North Korea could stage a military provocation, such as a satellite launch, to mark the founding anniversary of its Workers’ Party, said Ankit Panda, a senior editor at The Diplomat.

Speaking on Radio Free Asia on Thursday, Panda said October would be a critical moment for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who appears eager to insert himself onto the US political agenda ahead of the 2020 US presidential election in November.

Panda based his projection on a recently published editorial by Pyongyang’s state newspaper that urged its scientists to go on the offensive to make a breakthrough and bring about the socialist destruction. In January this year, Kim said the world would soon see a “new strategic weapon.”

Also on Thursday, Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said his agency was ready to field inspectors to the North once the US and relevant parties reach an agreement on Pyongyang’s denuclearization.

He added the verification process would not be easy, given the North’s expanding nuclear arsenal since 2009, when it expelled four IAEA inspectors upon the UN Security Council’s adoption of a resolution that denounced Pyongyang’s rocket launches.

“North Korea is a nuclear weapons state, illegally, and we don’t legally recognize that,” Grossi said. Pyongyang joined the IAEA in 1974 and signed the Non-proliferation Treaty in 1985, but it dropped out of the watchdog in 1994 and withdrew from the treaty in 2003.

By Choi Si-young (