U.S., South Korea Hold Joint Naval Drills As North Korea Plans Nuclear Test Joeskeeter/ Pixabay

A U.S. official has warned that North Korea could be preparing to conduct a nuclear test launch any time soon. On Tuesday, U.S. State Department Special Representative Sung Kim declined to specify any information on the exact timing of the test but South Korean media said the test may well take place by the end of the week. Analysts speculate this could happen on the anniversary date of Kim Jong Un’s first meeting with former U.S. President Donald Trump on June 12.

"On timing, I don't have anything more. They have obviously done the preparations in Punggye-ri test site, and my understanding is they could test any time," the U.S. diplomat said.

According to BBC, the warning of a Pyongyang nuclear test comes as tensions rise in the Korean peninsula. Although the North has not yet resumed nuclear testing in five years after the program was put to a halt in 2017, an anticipated nuclear test launch this year will bring a total of 7 nuclear weapons tests under its nuclear weapons program. As it is, North Korea has made a record-breaking number of missile tests this year with 31 missile tests within just the first half of 2022. In 2019, North Korea launched a total of 25 missiles.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke with reporters during a meeting with South Korean and Japanese officials in Seoul this week and said Washington will address any nuclear tests with a “swift and forceful” response citing this to be “in complete violation of UN Security Council resolutions”.

"I believe that not only ROK [South Korea] and the United States and Japan but the entire world will respond in a strong and clear manner," Sherman added.

On June 5, North Korea launched eight ballistic missiles from several locations across the country. This is the most number of missiles North Korea has ever launched in a single day. South Korea and the United States responded to this by firing eight more missiles into the waters off the east coast of the Korean peninsula last Monday. Kim said Washington is ready to pursue a diplomatic dialogue with North Korea without any preconditions.

"President Joe Biden has made it clear that the US is deeply committed to finding a diplomatic path forward," Kim added. He went on to say that this message has been conveyed to North Korean officials through its private channels with offers of humanitarian assistance and co-operations as North Korea continues to battle with its recent Covid-19 outbreak.

North Korean missile test
People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on March 16, 2022, after North Korea fired an "unidentified projectile" but appeared to have immediately failed according to the South's military. Photo by Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

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