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Jury Is Out On Timing Of N. Korea's Next Nuclear Test As U.S. Votes In Midterms

NORTH KOREA

Analysts are reviewing earlier speculation that North Korea could stage a nuclear test shortly before or after the U.S. midterm elections as Pyongyang stayed quiet on the eve of the U.S. Election Day.

  • The Centre for Strategic and International Studies said that the most recent satellite image of North Korea's Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility showed no signs of any new activity of significance, which corroborates the belief that preparations for the nation's 7th nuclear test have been completed.
  • The CSIS notes that Punggye-ri will "almost assuredly" serve as the site of the expected test, although North Korea "possesses the technical capability and resources to conduct such a test from another location."
  • The assessment of U.S. and South Korean authorities has been that Pyongyang has now made all necessary technical preparations and could conduct its nuclear drill at any point, based solely on a political decision.
  • The Korea Times circulated comments from local experts, who noted that North Korea could conduct more ICBM launches before detonating a nuclear device. This would increase the effect of the nuclear test by demonstrating Pyongyang's delivery capabilities.
  • Several current and former officials spoke in a similar vein, with Vice Defence Minister Shin Beom-chul noting that "unless North Korea's nuclear test takes place before the U.S. midterm elections, it would be difficult to fix another date in short term."

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