SEOUL: South Korea’s defence ministry said Friday North Korea might stage a third underground nuclear test in response to an expected new UN Security Council resolution tightening sanctions.
“I think that’s possible,” said spokesman Won Tae-Jae, asked about US news reports predicting another test.
“It’s a matter of common sense to think that could happen.”
The Fox news network said US intelligence officials have warned President Barack Obama that the North would respond to the resolution with another test.
CNN television cited unidentified officials as saying there are “fresh indications” of preparations.
US and South Korean officials have earlier said the North appears to be preparing to fire another long-range missile from a new base on its western coast.
“While we will not comment about intelligence reports, we have come to expect North Korea to act recklessly and dangerously,” US National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.
“But while the world unites to pass a strong new Security Council resolution, it is clear that North Korea’s behaviour is succeeding only in further isolating itself,” Hammer added.
The North on May 25 tested its second nuclear bomb, heightening a showdown after its launch on April 5 of a long-range missile and its withdrawal from a six-nation denuclearisation talks forum, of which the US is a member.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service declined comment on the US reports.
Yonhap news agency, quoting an unidentified intelligence official, said there were no signs of extra activities around the North’s test site at Kilju near the northeast coast.
The UN Security Council was expected Friday to adopt tougher sanctions targeting North Korea’s atomic and ballistic missile programmes.
The 15-member body was to meet at 11:00 am (1500 GMT) for a likely vote on a draft resolution already agreed by its five veto-wielding permanent members plus Japan and South Korea, which is not currently a member.
The text calls for tougher inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned items, a tighter arms embargo with the exception of light weapons and new financial restrictions.