South Korean officials believe North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is prepared to conduct the communist nation’s sixth nuclear test, an act that would severely raise tensions between the hermit kingdom and the United States.
Speaking to the South Korean parliament, members of the country’s National Intelligence Service told legislators they believe North Korea is rapidly preparing to test another nuclear device, possibly in days.
Pyongyang’s most recent detonation was last September.
According to lawmakers who were briefed on the matter, the intelligence community believes Kim Jong Un “has completed its preparation to carry out a nuclear test at Tunnel 2 and Tunnel 3 of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.”
North Korea has vowed in recent weeks to “punish” the United States and other United Nations members over crippling sanctions imposed on the communist nation. The threat comes on the heels of a joint military drill conducted by South Korea and American service members in the region.
“No one can guarantee that the exercise won’t evolve into actual fighting,” said a statement from the North Korean state-run news agency. “The [US-South Korean] joint military exercises will be like pouring gasoline on fire and worsen the state of the peninsula.”