South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Yong-se said on Monday that “it would not be surprising if North Korea conducts its own nuclear tests in the near future.”
Kwon Yong-seh noted that North Korea has focused on a tough “power for power and direct competition” approach that emerged during a plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party earlier this month.
“It is not surprising even if North Korea conducts a nuclear test at any moment,” the unification minister said.
He also noted “the need for close monitoring of activities in Pyongyang, including its response to the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and its response to the outbreak of acute gastroenteritis.”
He added that North Korea “seeks to use the growing rivalry between the US and China,” as well as the Russian military operation in Ukraine, in an “attempt to change the status quo with regional security through the development of its nuclear program.” “
“Such a change represents a very serious and fundamental challenge for us on our path to achieve peace and unification on the Korean Peninsula through the denuclearization of North Korea and the normalization of inter-Korean relations,” Kwon added.
The unification minister’s statement is said to have come amid reports that North Korea has completed preparations and is awaiting a decision from leader Kim Jong-un.