North Korea anniversaries could bring more provocations

SEOUL, Oct. 5 (UPI) — North Korea may be preparing another provocation around the time of two major anniversaries, according to South Korean press reports.

The country, which conducted its fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9 after test-firing dozens of ballistic missiles in 2016, is expected to observe the 10th anniversary of its first nuclear test on Sunday.

Then on Monday, North Korea is scheduled to celebrate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers’ Party.

While analysts in South Korea have yet to determine the kind of provocation Pyongyang has in mind, North Korea had stated on Sept. 6 that it continues to expand and strengthen its nuclear arsenal, South Korean news network MBN reported.

The provocation could also be another launch of a long-range rocket to send a satellite into orbit.

Critics have said the North’s “peaceful” satellite launch is a cover for a test of the country’s intercontinental ballistic missile technology, after Pyongyang fired a rocket to send an earth observation satellite into space in early February.

North Korea has refused to suspend its development of nuclear weapons, and issued a statement on Wednesday, addressing the United States and South Korea.

The statement issued by state news agency KCNA claimed the country has already “switched to pre-emptive attack methods,” and that it would be a good idea for Washington and Seoul to “keep in mind the warning from our revolutionary armed forces.”

The message is a response to alleged plans in South Korea to take out the North Korean leadership, Pyongyang said.

Workers’ Party Rodong Sinmun also condemned U.S. plans to upgrade its nuclear arsenal.

Calling the United States an “international nuclear culprit,” North Korea lambasted President Barack Obama and his “call for a nuclear weapons-free world” as “deception and hypocrisy.”

Pyongyang has previously claimed it is developing weapons of mass destruction for defense purposes, although the country has negotiated security guarantees and assurances with Washington.

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