North Korea may conduct a nuclear test after examining Washington’s policy towards the North’s push to expand its weapons of mass destruction arsenal, local observers predicted Friday.
Experts said intelligence gathered indicate that Pyongyang can detonate another atomic weapon almost immediately if the leadership gives the order.
They added that judging from past experiences, the isolationist country may detonate a nuclear device within a month’s time.
The country has already made public its intent to increase its nuclear deterrence.
The country officially challenged the international community on Wednesday and Thursday by denouncing the latest U.N. Security Council resolution that tightens sanctions against the North for launching a long-range on Dec. 12.
With the 2006 nuclear test, the North issued a foreign ministry statement on Oct. 3 outlining its sovereign right to defend itself from U.S. aggression.
Six days later they detonated a device.
With the 2009 test, it denounced the United Nations sanction on April 29 and detonated a device on May 25.
North Korean watchers said Pyongyang’s “special mention” of the United States in its government statements this week is a sign that the communist country will make its next move based on how policymakers in Washington react to the Dec. 12 rocket launch.
“There is a good chance that Pyongyang will try to determine how Barack Obama’s second-term administration will handle outstanding issues and what messages it sends out before carrying out a third nuclear test,” said Chang Yong-seok, senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.
He added that the timing of the test remains uncertain, although it could be carried out before Feb. 16, the birthday of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.