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Seoul: North Korea preparing for 4th nuclear test



SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea is making final preparations to conduct its fourth nuclear test, South Korea's defense minister said Thursday, but he added that it could be a bluff.

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told South Korean journalists that North Korea is able to detonate a nuclear device at any moment, though he didn't elaborate on what the final step of its preparations would be, according to ministry officials.

Kim also said that although North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test, it may not intend to set off the device soon, and instead is trying to trick outside observers into believing a test is imminent, the officials said, requesting anonymity under department rules.

North Korea has threatened in recent weeks to conduct a nuclear test to protest what it calls U.S. and South Korean hostility and international condemnation over its rocket and missile tests earlier this year. South Korea has warned North Korea would face serious consequences if the test is made.

Pyongyang has called for the resumption of long-dormant international aid-for-disarmament talks, but Washington and Seoul say the North must first move toward disarmament. North Korea says it needs nuclear weapons as a deterrent against U.S. military threats.

Many North Korea watchers had suspected a nuclear test would occur when President Barack Obama visited Seoul last month, but nothing happened. Analysts remain divided over whether North Korea will go ahead with a test soon.

A fourth test would mark another defiant response to U.S.-led international pressures on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program. North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Western experts believe North Korea has a handful of rudimentary bombs, though it's not yet believed to be capable of producing warheads small enough to mount on a long-range missile that could threaten the U.S. Another nuclear test could put the North a step closer to that goal.

Recent months have seen animosities flare up on the Korean Peninsula with Pyongyang conducting a barrage of rocket and missile tests and resuming fierce rhetoric against Seoul and Washington. Before then, the North had been gradually dialing down its threats and seeking improved ties with South Korea in what foreign analysts said was an attempt to lure investment and aid.

On Thursday, Seoul's Defense Ministry announced that a joint investigation by South Korea and the U.S. concluded that three drones found in the South in March and April were flown by North Korea on military surveillance missions. A ministry statement called the drone flights a military provocation and said South Korea will react strongly. North Korea has denied it sent such drones and accused South Korea of plotting a fabrication.

South Korean defense officials said the drones are considered crude and low-tech but that it's the first time North Korean drones have been found crashed in South Korea.

The two Koreas are divided along the world's most heavily armed border since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea as buttress against potential North Korean aggression.

A year ago, Pyongyang made a torrent of threats to launch nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington in protest of U.N. sanctions that were toughened following its third bomb test.

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Odens Fist May 08 2014 at 9:03 PM

"North Korea is able to detonate a nuclear device at any moment"..
OH NO..!!! Color me utterly unimpressed, so what, they lack any sort of decent delivery system, and the U.S.A. has legions of Nuclear weapons that could literally MELT N. Korea, or at least melt the ONE city that actually has electricity in N. Korea.. F that backward, weak, starving, ignorant nation of 4 foot tall trolls. Gen Macarthur was right, we should have nuked them and the Chinese into oblivion.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
dfoster May 08 2014 at 7:32 PM

North Korea would not exist if not for China. Remember that when you shop.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
omacees12 dfoster May 08 2014 at 8:00 PM

shee* i am just comming from WALMART and everything i take up said made in CHINA and if the stuff dont made there the ingredient is from there the only thing that as nothing to do with CHINA was the beef it come from CANADA and it was too expensive, soon or later everyone goes to WALMART its the largest store in the world or the chinese resturant and eat the cats and dogs as beef

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jshe44281 May 08 2014 at 7:34 PM

Sanctions really stopped Kim. Didnt have much effect on iran as they are building centrifuges at a record reat. Putin isnt exactly impressed either. Can we say obama's failed foreign [policy.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
lov2elkhnt May 08 2014 at 7:43 PM

Hey China, you folks going to take care of that mess in NK or what? Un's gotta go, ya know?

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
harkone75 lov2elkhnt May 08 2014 at 7:46 PM

lov...when we fought the north...China came and helped them out...I doubt China really cares much about us except for the fact of all the jobs they have.

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1 reply
lov2elkhnt harkone75 May 08 2014 at 8:05 PM

I know about the Korean War too, pal. Did you know we're still at war with them??? Yeah, it's a cease fire truce with no agreement other than a cease fire that they have violated constantly. And Un and his dad don't get along with the Chinese very well. And China wasn't the ones that gave NK the bomb or the materials to make them.

Flag 0 rate up
harkone75 May 08 2014 at 7:44 PM

If we are lucky it will blow up in North Korea

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Paul May 08 2014 at 7:46 PM

Disarmament for Foreign Aid says it all. Send me money and I will cool it.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rusty9354 May 08 2014 at 7:59 PM

maybe if the world is lucky they will detonate the weapons in pyongyang

Flag Reply +1 rate up
entheoscht May 08 2014 at 8:07 PM

I think it's about time for the U.S. to "test" a nuke on North Korea.
Lil Kim is getting a bit big for his britches.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
lylenpat May 08 2014 at 8:49 PM

Maybe Kim Jon Yunnnnnnn can sit on the lid to the test site and see how his butt feels after he squeeze's the trigger.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
jspfarm May 08 2014 at 7:09 PM

They want aid so they are threatening again, simple solution, GIVE THEM NOTHING! Not now or ever, this has got to stop, if they want someone to support them let China do it, if they want to play with the big boys toys, let them, they will just end up sending one in the wrong direction and even though it will never reach it's target, the response will put an end to them and the world will have a glow in the dark parking lot.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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