South Korean President Park Geun-hye has said that North Korea
is preparing to carry out another nuclear test.
Park said on Monday that there are signs that Pyongyang is gearing up for its fifth nuclear test, but did not discuss the basis for her claim.
The president, however, ordered the South Korean military to be ready for any “provocation” by Pyongyang.
Citing South Korean government sources, media reports also said on Sunday that the North is preparing for the test to be carried out in early May.
’s military has said Pyongyang is technically ready for an additional nuclear test. The Defense Ministry also said the North can conduct its fifth nuclear test at anytime.
South Korea and the US are concerned that a new nuclear test could take the North a step closer toward manufacturing a warhead small enough to place on a long-range missile.
Washington says Pyongyang is after developing long-range missiles which could put the US mainland within the strike range for a nuclear attack.
Both the US and South Korea said on Friday that Pyongyang attempted to test-fire a mobile Musudan or BM-25 missile early in the day, but it failed.
declared itself a nuclear power in 2005 and carried out four nuclear weapons tests in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016.
This picture, taken from North Korean TV and released by South Korean news agency Yonhap on February 7, 2016, shows a rocket moments after being launched by North Korea. (AFP photo)
It also launched a long-range rocket in February this year, which it said was aimed at placing an earth observation satellite into orbit.
The US and the South, however, denounced the move as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.
North Korea says it is strengthening its defense capabilities to protect itself against hostile countries, including the US.
The East Asian country has already been targeted with international sanctions over its nuclear and missile activities. Back in March, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the toughest sanctions on Pyongyang in two decades.