TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea is prepared to conduct a nuclear test unless the United States responds positively to its proposals for resolving a row over Pyongyang’s weapons ambitions, Japanese and North Korean sources were quoted as saying by a Japanese newspaper on Saturday.
The Asahi Shimbun said this had been conveyed to U.S. envoy Jack Pritchard by a North Korean official in a secret meeting between officials from the two nations earlier this month.
Earlier this week, diplomatic sources in Tokyo told Reuters that the North was ready to declare itself a member of the nuclear club, opening the way for possible tests and increased production of weapons, unless the nuclear crisis is resolved by September 9 # the anniversary of the communist nation’s founding.
The Asahi said that a North Korean official told Pritchard: “If the United States continues its policy of pressure against us, we may be forced to take opposing measures. Such as, for example, a nuclear test.”
It added that there was a possibility that any test could take place by September 9.
No Japanese foreign ministry officials were available to comment on the report.
Pyongyang has said it has finished reprocessing spent nuclear fuel that could allow it to make about half a dozen atomic bombs, but doubts persist about the accuracy of its claims.
Cautious hopes of a breakthrough in the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear arms program have risen since China sent an envoy to Pyongyang earlier this month, apparently to suggest a compromise format for negotiations.