North Korea may be preparing for a new atomic bomb test a month after its last test, a U.S. official said Thursday.
The official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, told CNN that Washington has “indications” that North Korea may be planning another test, which would be its third since 2006. The official would not provide any details, however.
The possible preparations come as the U.N. Security Council debates whether to impose additional sanctions on the communist state in response to its May 25 test of a nuclear device, as well as several subsequent missile tests. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Wednesday that North Korea “must pay a price” for its defiance of the international community, which has demanded Pyongyang halt those tests.
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In July 2008, U.S., Russian, Chinese, Japanese and South Korean negotiators reached an agreement with North Korea for it to resume the disablement of its nuclear facilities. But the deal has faltered over plans to allow the other parties to verify whether Pyongyang has revealed all of its nuclear secrets.
North Korea has since threatened to restart its nuclear fuel plant at Yongbyon.
Stephen Bosworth, the Obama administration’s special representative for North Korea, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that all parties — including China, long North Korea’s major ally — have agreed to “coordinated steps” to get North Korea to reverse its recent moves away from the six-party agreement.