North Korea doesn’t appear poised for imminent nuclear test, US official says


North Korea has long been banned from nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches by the United Nations Security Council, which has strengthened sanctions on Pyongyang over the years to cut off funding for those programs.

In recent years, the 15-member body has been split on how to deal with North Korea. Although both Russia and China backed toughened sanctions after North Korea’s last nuclear test, in May 2022 they vetoed a US-led push to impose more UN sanctions over North Korea’s renewed ballistic missile launches.

North Korea conducted an unprecedented number of such launches last year, among them tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to reach the US mainland.

That testing continues. North Korea fired several cruise missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, three days after firing a short-range ballistic missile into the sea.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said that Wednesday’s launches could have involved strategic cruise missiles.

“Strategic” is typically used to describe weapons that have a nuclear capability. North Korea’s last known firing of strategic cruise missiles was on Mar 12, when it said that it fired two from a submarine.

Asked about the flurry of testing by North Korea, Berrier said he believed that Kim was still not satisfied with his deterrent, despite the advances in his military programs in recent years.

“He continues to pursue greater accuracy and lethality with his with his missile force,” Berrier said.

He noted that North Korea’s conventional ground forces “have atrophied over time” as Kim has advanced his nuclear weapons and missile programs.

“But I think it is a much more dangerous North Korea than it has been in the past,” Berrier said.

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