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(LEAD) Park: S. Korea detects signs of preparations for nuclear test in N. Korea

All Headlines 11:46 April 18, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with more comments by Park; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye said Monday that South Korea has detected signs of North Korea preparing for a fifth nuclear test.

We are in a situation, in which we don't know whether North Korea could stage provocation as a move to overcome its isolation and to consolidate its internal unity," Park said in a regular meeting with her top aides at Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office.

She said signs of "preparations for a fifth nuclear test have been detected."

South Korea’s Defense Ministry also said North Korea might conduct an underground nuclear warhead test.

The warnings came more than a month after the U.N. Security Council imposed the toughest-ever sanctions resolution on North Korea for its nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch earlier this year.

The chief executive called on the military to maintain readiness to sternly retaliate against North Korea in case Pyongyang stages a provocation.

Park has warned that North Korea could face even tougher sanctions and isolation should it choose to undertake yet another provocation.

On domestic issues, the president said she humbly accepts the results of the recent parliamentary elections and will put people's livelihoods and job creation at the top of the government's agenda.

"The government will closely cooperate with a new parliament," Park said. The new parliament is set to begin its term in late May.

Last week, Park's ruling Saenuri Party suffered a resounding defeat in parliamentary elections, a move that some say could make it more difficult for Park to push for her reform drive without cooperating with opposition parties.

Park vowed to pursue reform to improve South Korea's economy, citing difficulties facing Asia's fourth largest economy.


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