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.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."