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Seoul official says N. Korea still away from 'red line' despite nuclear test

All Headlines 17:52 September 03, 2017

SEOUL, Sept. 3 (Yonhap) -- It is too early to say whether North Korea has crossed the red line set by the South Korean president despite its claimed success of its latest nuclear test staged Sunday, a ranking official from South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier said the weaponization of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry them will mark the North's crossing of the red line.

North Korea staged its sixth nuclear test earlier in the day, later claiming complete success.

Seoul's weather agency has said the detonation appeared to have been at least nine times more powerful than the communist state's fifth nuclear test staged September 2016, based on the scale of the tremor detected.

Still, the Cheong Wa Dae official said it was too early to assume success in the North's nuclear test.

"It is what they claim and such a claim has yet to be verified," the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Since Moon took office in May, the communist state has also staged nine missile launches in apparent tests to develop the means of delivering its nuclear weapons.

The Cheong Wa Dae official said the North may also have some way to go before it perfects its missile technology.

"There are still debates on if North Korea fired intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) or intermediate range ballistic missiles and if they landed exactly where North Korea intended," he said.

"We said the red line was the combination of nuclear warheads and ICBMs, and even what it announced today, North Korea continues to use the expression 'to enter the perfect stage,' and that is why we believe it has not yet reached the complete stage," the official added.

"We do not know when that will be, but considering that the North too said it staged the latest nuclear test to enter the complete stage, we believe there is still some way to go."

bdk@yna.co.kr
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