South Korea: North Korea could launch nuclear missile tests 'at any moment'

Ahead of President Barrack Obama's visit, Soth Korean intelligence announces increased activity in North Korea's nuclear testing site

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The Independent Online

North Korea could be preparing for its fourth nuclear test in seven years, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Defence.

A spokesman from South Korea’s Ministry of Defence said that the country’s intelligence agencies have detected a lot of activity in the Punggye-ri area of the country, the place where North Korea’s nuclear test site is situated.

Speaking at a press briefing, Kim Min-Seok said: "Our military is currently detecting a lot of activity in and around the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.”

According, Min-Seok the North Koreans were at a stage at which a nuclear test could be launched “at any moment.”

The news takes on greater significance in the light of the fact that US President, Barack Obama, will visit South Korea at the end of this week.

Part of the Obama’s Asian Tour, in which he will travel to four Asian nations, the President will arrive in South Korea on Friday.

During his time in South Korea, Obama will hold talks with the South Korean President Park Geun-hye, with discussion around the increasingly unpredictable behaviour of North Korea high on his list of priorities.

While the possibilities for another nuclear test are real, Kim Min-Seok did not rule out the increased activity in Punggye-ri  being merely  a “deception tactic”, aimed to raise tensions ahead of the American Head of State’s visit.

Min-Seok said: "We are thinking of possibilities that the North may stage a surprise nuclear test or just pretend to stage a nuclear test."

If North Korea do decide to carry out a nuclear test, it will be the second under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, who took over from his father in 2011.

Earlier this week, the North Korean Foreign Ministry spoke out against Obama’s visit claiming that it was a "a reactionary and dangerous” move, aimed at “escalating confrontation” and “bringing dark clouds over an unstable region.”

The tension between both north and South Korea has been heightened of late, after a series of Rocket missile launches from the North Korean army resulted in an exchange of fire between both sides.