N. Korea stands ready for nuke test: S. Korean ministry
SEOUL-- North Korea maintains preparedness to conduct another nuclear test at any time, South Korea's defense ministry told lawmakers Tuesday, a day after Pyongyang asserted the success of its weekend ballistic missile test.
In a report to the National Assembly's national defense committee, the ministry pointed out the North seems determined to show to the world that it's not kowtowing to U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.
"There's a possibility of various strategic and tactical provocations in case of the strengthening of international pressure," the ministry said during the session convened to discuss the North's latest provocation. "North Korea maintains conditions to carry out a nuclear test in Punggye-ri on a standing basis."
It was referring to a nuclear test site in the northeastern mountainous region where the North conducted its five previous nuclear tests, including two last year.
The Hwasong-12 rocket landed in waters 787 kilometers away after reaching a maximum altitude of 2,111.5 km, according to Pyongyang's state media.
The ministry confirmed the announcement, saying it is estimated to have flown 4,500-5,000 km if fired on a standard angle.
The missile launch at around 5:27 a.m. on Sunday was detected by South Korean Navy's Aegis destroyer, Yulgok Yi I, two minutes later.
It's viewed as an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), the ministry said, adding additional analysis is needed to check if the North has secured a "stable" missile technology for atmospheric re-entry.
The North seems to be trying to develop a new delivery means for its nuclear weapons after a series of failed missile launches, the ministry said.
It is also apparently seeking to test the new government of South Korea in a bid to take the initiative in inter-Korean relations, it said.
The North test-fired 10 ballistic missiles this year alone. It launched a total of 51 ballistic missiles since Kim Jong-un came to power in late 2011.
Source: Yonhap News Agency