North Korea said on Friday that the world would have to “wait and see” when asked for details of “a new form” of nuclear test it threatened to carry out.
On March 26, North Korea fired two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles into the sea. Its first firing in four years of mid-range missiles that can hit Japan followed a series of short-range rocket launches over the past two months.
“[North Korea] made it very clear, we will carry out a new form of nuclear test. But I recommend you to wait and see what it is,” North Korea’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ri Tong Il said on Friday during the normally reclusive state’s third U.N. news conference this year.
Ri accused the United States of being “hell bent on regime change” in North Korea by blaming its leaders for human rights violations. He also said Washington was blocking a bid for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula by ignoring North Korean proposals, so it can maintain military presence in the region.
Nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in the United States, said North Korea’s reference to a new form of nuclear test could mean simultaneous detonation of two or more devices as part of a program of more intense testing expected over the next few years. Lewis said he thought it unlikely North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would move for the moment from underground to atmospheric testing – something he might do to demonstrate an ability to deploy nuclear armed missiles or artillery – for fear of inflaming Chinese public opinion.
“He’s only likely to do that … if he no longer cares what Beijing thinks,” Lewis said. “Still, it is useful to remember that Kim Jong Un has a number of other unpleasant provocations from which he might choose.”