SEOUL, Sept. 14 (UPI) — North Korea could conduct its next nuclear test in October, according to a U.S. expert on the country.
Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, stated in The New York Times on Tuesday that Pyongyang has conducted 17 missile tests and two nuclear tests.
North Korea’s next important date, Oct. 9, the 10th anniversary of its 2006 nuclear test, might be the “perfect occasion” for Kim Jong Un to conduct another test, according to the expert.
Wit stated the satellite photos of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site show “at least three more tests are possible at a moment’s notice.”
North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States is also taking place at an accelerated pace.
Now Pyongyang could deploy an ICBM, mounted with a simple hydrogen bomb earlier than 2020, according to Wit. The analyst added the United States should not rely solely on China to place pressure on North Korea and instead address Pyongyang’s security concerns directly.
North Korea has stated it is developing weapons of mass destruction against a potential U.S. attack, despite assurance of security from the Obama and Bush administrations.
Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program has been touted in North Korea state media, and a statement of the “success” of the fifth nuclear test from the country’s Institute of Nuclear Weapons ran in the Sept. 10 issue of the Rodong Sinmun.
According to a source who spoke to the Tokyo Shimbun, the institute is being managed by the Workers’ Party’s military industry division and goes by the nickname of “83 Research Institute.”
Ri Hong Sop, the former director of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, is the current director, according to the Japanese press report.
Ri has been under U.N. sanctions since 2009.