North Korea Might Hold Nuclear Test Next Week, China and Russia Not Condemning Launches: US Envoy

North Korea Might Hold Nuclear Test Next Week, China and Russia Not Condemning Launches: US Envoy
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks away from what state media report is a "new type" of intercontinental ballistic missile in this undated photo released on March 24, 2022 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). (KCNA via Reuters)
Katabella Roberts

North Korea might hold a nuclear test next week to mark the birth anniversary of the country's late founder, Kim Il Sung, according to a U.S. official, who said that there have been no productive discussions with China or Russia regarding U.S. efforts to condemn Pyongyang's recent string of missile launches.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim told reporters at a press briefing on April 6 that U.S. officials believe Pyongyang could use the April 15 anniversary to showcase its increasing nuclear capabilities but noted that he didn't want to speculate too much about the East Asian country.

"So we are worried that, in connection with the upcoming April 15th anniversary, that the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] may be tempted to take another provocative action. We obviously hope not, but we will be prepared," Kim said.

"In terms of the upcoming anniversary and the provocative actions the DPRK may take, I don’t want to speculate too much, but I think it could be another missile launch, it could be a nuclear test.

"The important thing is that we, in cooperation and coordination with our allies and partners, are prepared to deal with whatever they may undertake.

"I want to emphasize that we obviously hope that they will refrain from further provocation."

Kim noted that North Korea's regime has conducted 13 missile tests since the start of the year, adding, "Hopefully the anniversary can pass without any further escalation."

North Korea's most recent missile test occurred on March 24 and involved the test-launch of its largest-yet intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, which it fired from Pyongyang International Airport.
According to the regime's mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency, the missile flew 681 miles to a maximum altitude of 3,905 miles before hitting a target in the sea.

That was yet another breach of the country's self-imposed moratorium in 2018—a suspension on nuclear and long-range missile testing.

Kim said North Korea's "escalatory and provocative actions" require a "decisive response" from the U.N. Security Council, of which both China and Russia are members, and that "this is why we have, in cooperation with our partners, proposed a new U.N. Security Council resolution."

"We have had discussions with the PRC and Russia," he said. "Unfortunately, I cannot report that we have had productive discussions with them thus far, but I would defer to my very capable colleagues in New York to continue that effort," he said.

"I know that there is overwhelming consensus that the Security Council needs to respond to these blatant violations of multiple Security Council resolutions, and we hope that Russia and China will agree that it’s in their interest to work with us on this new Security Council resolution."

Kim's comments come as tensions in the region continue to escalate. On April 5, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, warned that while Pyongyang opposes war, it will use its growing arsenal of nuclear weapons to retaliate if South Korea takes any "dangerous military action" such as a preemptive strike.

"But if South Korea, for any reason—whether or not it is blinded by misjudgment—opts for such military action as 'preemptive strike' touted by [Defense Minister Suh Wook], the situation will change," Kim said. "In that case, South Korea itself will become a target."

Wook had said South Korea's military is capable of "accurately and swiftly" taking action to strike North Korean missile launch sites that present an impending threat to the South.

Reuters contributed to this report.