Aug. 28 (UPI) — North Korea is putting the finishing touches on its next nuclear test and could likely engage in yet another missile provocation, South Korea’s spy agency says.
“With regards to the Nos. 2 and 3 shafts at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear site, [activity indicates] preparations have been completed for a nuclear test,” Seoul’s national intelligence service said, according to Kim Byung-ki of the ruling Minjoo Party of Korea following a parliamentary hearing on Monday.
Kim also said there is a high likelihood the projectiles launched on Saturday are short-range missiles but investigation is ongoing, News 1 reported.
“The national intelligence service is preparing for the possibility of [another] ballistic missile launch within the period of joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises and Sept. 9, the Day of the Foundation of the [North Korean] Republic,” the South Korean lawmaker said.
The NIS said the main reason North Korea continues to engage in missile provocations is to “establish a relationship” with the United States, Kim added.
The joint drills are to continue through Thursday.
North Korea also wants to “indirectly demonstrate the importance” of its intercontinental ballistic missile, the lawmaker said.
The spy agency noted Kim Jong Un‘s publicized military activities have declined by half year-on-year, with 14 instances of public activity in July and August.
Missile-related activities have become the focus for Kim, the spy agency said.
The adoption of North Korea sanctions, Resolution 2371, at the United Nations Security Council on Aug. 6 has also prompted the regime to intensify “propaganda and ideological education,” according to the NIS.
The spy agency confirmed an earlier report from Radio Free Asia that the state’s security department is expelling people from the city of Pyongyang, because frustration is rising in the wake of sanctions.