North Korea threatened Monday to conduct a nuclear test “at any time and at any location.”
Pyongyang, according to a spokesman for the regime’s foreign ministry, has no intention of halting its nuclear weapons program and is “ready to respond to any option taken by the US.”
“The DPRK’s measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership,” the spokesman said.
Recent satellite images have led experts to believe that a sixth nuclear test may be imminent at Punggye-ri.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo arrived in South Korea over the weekend to discuss regional tensions with policy makers and military officials.
Early Saturday North Korea attempted to test a ballistic missile that exploded shortly after launch. The test came as a carrier strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson held drills with allies near the Korean Peninsula.
U.S. officials also announced Monday that the THAAD missile defense system had reached an initial operating capability, allowing South Korea to defend against some missiles from the North.
The deployment of THAAD has been highly contested by China given the system’s powerful and far reaching radar. While the United States continues to defend THAAD as a purely defensive measure, the military hardware’s presence could complicate attempts by President Donald Trump to convince Beijing to pressure Pyongyang over its weapons programs.
In an interview published by Reuters Thursday, President Donald Trump warned that a “major, major conflict” was possible with North Korea.
“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” President Trump said. “We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult.”
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 28, 2017