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(LEAD) North Korea could conduct a nuclear test at any time: Sung Kim

All News 01:23 June 08, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional remarks, more information from 5th para; CHANGES in paras 2-3)
By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, June 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to have completed preparations for what will be its seventh nuclear test that could take place at any time, Special U.S. Representative for North Korea Sung Kim said Tuesday.

Kim said a North Korean nuclear test will be met by a "swift" response from the U.S. and its allies, but that Washington will continue to remain open to dialogue with no "end date."

"On timing, I don't have anything more," Kim said when asked if the U.S. agreed with Seoul's earlier assessment that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test as early as this week.

"They have obviously done the preparations in Punggye-ri and I understand they could test any time," he added, referring to North Korea's key nuclear test site.

North Korea conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.

The wide anticipation for North Korea's seventh nuclear test follows a series of North Korean missile launches that also included the country's first intercontinental ballistic missile tests since November 2017.

Kim said the U.S. remains open to dialogue with the North and that any "issues" that concern North Korea can be discussed.

"All I can say is that we have made it very clear to them that we are open to finding a meaningful diplomatic path forward, and we hope that it will refrain from provocative actions and return to the table to discuss with us," Kim said.

"What we have made clear to them is that we are willing to address issues of concern to them. Whether we find those issues to be legitimate or not, we are willing to sit down with them and give them an opportunity to explain their position and see if there's a way for us to address their concerns," he added.

The U.S. envoy also said there was no "end date" to the U.S. offer to engage with North Korea.

"On the timeline for commitment to diplomatic approach, I mean, there is no end date for that," he said when asked. "I think we will continue to remain committed to pursuing a viable diplomatic path."

The U.S. and its allies, however, will respond clearly and swiftly should North Korea go ahead with a nuclear test.

"I will be in close touch with our allies and partners to be able to respond very quickly, very swiftly should the North Koreans proceed with a nuclear test," said Kim.

He declined to comment on any specific measures the U.S. may take, but said they will be "in very close cooperation with our allies and partners."

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bdk@yna.co.kr
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