North Korea might conduct a nuclear test next year, South Korea’s spy agency has warned.
South Korea’s intelligence agency also said Pyongyang received help from Russia for its successful launch of a reconnaissance satellite this week.
North Korea had sent data to Russia on launch vehicles used in two failed previous satellite launches, and Moscow had offered its analysis of the data, Yoo Sang-bum, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, said after a briefing by the spy agency.
The launch was “successful”, with the satellite entering orbit around the Earth, and North Korea could launch additional satellites and conduct a nuclear test next year, Youn Kun-young, another committee member, said.
The last time the secretive state tested a nuclear bomb was in 2017 – at a facility it apparently demolished ahead of talks between then US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korea state media claimed the site had been completely dismantled in the blasts “to ensure the transparency of discontinuance of nuclear tests”.
South Korea suspended part of a military agreement after the North defied warnings to launch its spy satellite.
The move means Seoul will step up surveillance along its fortified northern border – negating a clause laid out in a 2018 pact between the nations.
Critics had argued the deal had only weakened South Korea’s ability to monitor the northern border – while North Korea had violated the agreement.