(Reuters) - North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test, a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters, which will draw further international condemnation following a failed rocket launch if it goes ahead.
The isolated and impoverished state sacrificed the chance of closer ties with the United States when it launched the long-range rocket on April 13 and was censured by the U.N. Security Council, including the North's sole major ally, China.
Critics say the rocket launch was aimed at honing the North's ability to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States, a move that would dramatically increase its military and diplomatic heft.
Now the North appears to be about to carry out a third nuclear test after two in 2006 and 2009.
"Soon. Preparations are almost complete," the source said when asked whether North Korea was planning to conduct a nuclear test.
This is the first time a senior official has confirmed the planned test and the source has correctly predicted events in the past, telling Reuters about the 2006 test days before it happened.
The rocket launch and nuclear test come as Kim Jong-un, the third of his line to rule North Korea, seeks to cement his grip on power.
Kim took office in December and has lauded the country's military might, reaffirming his father's "military first" policies that have stunted economic development and appearing to dash slim hopes of an opening to the outside world.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, which have most to fear from any North Korean nuclear threat, are watching events anxiously and many observers say that Pyongyang may have the capacity to conduct a test using highly enriched uranium for the first time.
According to this thread the US will strike NK if a 3rd nuke test occurs
(Reuters) - China has provided some assistance to North Korea's missile program, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Thursday, a week after the hermit state's failed rocket launch triggered international condemnation.
Chinese President Hu Jintao vowed on Monday to bolster ties with North Korea and backed its young leader, Kim Jong-un, despite an international outcry over the North's recent rocket launch and the possibility of a third nuclear test by the isolated state.
Originally posted by mike_trivisonno
They are committing genocide disguised as "nuclear tests".
How many innocent citizens will the communist regime kill in this test?
The poor people will be transported by train to huge underground "dormitories" and then vaporized by the nuclear explosion.
By Richard Engel, Jim Miklaszewski and Robert Windrem, NBC News
North Korea could carry out an underground test of a nuclear weapon as early as Tuesday night as the North's reclusive leadership dramatically tries to up the stakes with the U.S. and the West, U.S. officials told NBC News.
U.S. officials say North Korea may already have an arsenal between 12 and a "few dozen" far more advanced weapons, many more than generally believed.
The officials couldn't be specific on a date for the test, but they told NBC News they were "100 percent" certain there would be a nuclear test within the next two weeks or "at any time."
Tensions between North and South Korea increased this week when Pyongyang threatened to turn Seoul into "ashes." While the North regularly issues such threats, the South seemed to be taking this round of threats more seriously by increasing its security.