North Korea has the capacity to carry out a fourth nuclear weapons test whenever it chooses to do so, South Korea’s senior negotiator for stalled denuclearization negotiations with Pyongyang said on Tuesday.
Nuclear envoy Cho Tae-yong told an audience in Seoul “the assessment of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities is very grave, and we see it has the ability to carry out another round of nuclear tests whenever it wants in technological terms,” the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Pyongyang carried out its third and most-powerful test to date in February. Experts believe at least one more underground explosion is necessary for the North to figure out how to miniaturize nuclear weapons for loading onto missiles.
“There are signs that the five-megawatt graphite moderated reactor has been in operation recently, the North is expanding nuclear enrichment facilities, and construction is underway for a small-scale light-water reactor,” Cho said in ticking off the various areas where Pyongyang is advancing its ability to produce fissile material for warheads.
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency in an interview with Yonhap said another nuclear test by the North “or threat of another test, is very disturbing.”
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said: “We are always prepared to go back to North Korea when requested. But in order that the IAEA goes back to the North, a political agreement is essential.”
Pyongyang has said it is willing to return to regional aid-for-denuclearization negotiations but only on an unconditional basis. It has also tried to get its erstwhile negotiating partner to tacitly recognize it as a nuclear-armed nation.
“In the past, the North considered the possibility of giving up nuclear weapons in exchange for assistance,” Chinese Central Party School analyst Zhang Liangui said in an interview with the Global Times newspaper. “But now it wants to turn back to the negotiation table as a nuclear state and act as a supervisor of other nuclear states, implying that if it were to give up nuclear weapons, it would want others to do the same first.”
Zhang said other participants in the moribund six-nation negotiations — China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States — “should also break the North’s illusion that one day they will admit its status as a nuclear state,” Yonhap reported.
What We're Following See More »
Following their meeting, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, briefly addressed the media, with Peña Nieto subtly rebuking Trump's rhetoric. While he spoke respectfully about Trump, Peña Nieto did not back down, saying that free trade has proved effective and that illegal immigration into America from the south has decreased over the last ten years while the flow of people and drugs into Mexico has increased. Additionally, he stressed that Mexicans in America are "honest" and "deserve respect." Trump responded, calling some Mexicans "tremendous people" while saying others are "beyond reproach." Trump laid out five important issues, including the end of illegal immigration and the ability for either country to build a wall or border. However, Trump said he did not discuss who would pay for the wall.
A divided Supreme Court "refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The court rejected a request by Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials to delay a lower court ruling that found the state law was tainted by racial discrimination."
"Police say a woman walked into U.S. Rep. Danny Davis' office on Chicago's West Side, drank out of a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the sanitizer over herself and set herself on fire with a lighter." The Democrat wasn't in the office at the time.
"The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday awarded 44 states, four tribes and the District of Columbia a combined $53 million in grants to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders and ultimately aimed at reducing the number of opioid-related deaths." But HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and drug czar Michael Botticelli both called on Congress to approve the $1.1 billion Obama has requested to fight the opioid crisis.