Pyongyang nuclear test would receive 'answer', warns US military

Pyongyang nuclear test would receive “response”, warns U.S. Army

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A nuclear test by North Korea, which appears likely in the coming weeks, would be a “game changer” in the region and would receive a “response” from the United States, several senior Honolulu officials said Friday. U.S. Asia-Pacific Command officials.

North Korea has carried out five ballistic missile tests in one week, and is likely preparing to conduct a nuclear test after the next Chinese Communist Party congress, which begins on October 16, an official from the Indo-Chinese command told some reporters. Pacific (IndoPacom).

“I think the possibility of a test is more likely one or two weeks after the congress,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

His estimate agrees with that of the South Korean intelligence services, for which this nuclear test, which would be the first since 2017, could take place between October 16 and the midterm elections in the United States on November 7.

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While emphasizing that no link has been established between Pyongyang's recent ballistic tests and the possibility of a nuclear test, the head of the US fleet in the region, Admiral Sam Paparo, acknowledged that it would be “a matter of very deep concern”.

“It would be very worrying, there would be a response”, he added.

“This response would be done in close consultation with our South Korean ally and would be consistent with our integrated deterrence doctrine: it would incorporate all instruments of US power,” diplomatic, military and economic, he added.

“Unusual” vision

For the chief of the air force in the region, General Ken Wilsbach, the idea that North Korea has a nuclear weapon is all the more worrying since, unlike other nuclear powers, the Pyongyang regime does not don't see this kind of weaponry as a deterrent never to be used.

“They threatened to use these weapons against their neighbors and even the United States. And that's unusual,” he said. “The other countries that have these weapons don't talk like that and that should worry everyone.”

A North Korean nuclear test would “undoubtedly be a game-changer” in the region, General Wilsbach added. “That would be a source of concern for many countries. I think it would worry even China and Russia.”

Under international sanctions for its weapons programs, North Korea adopted a new doctrine in early September proclaiming that it would not give up never nuclear weapons.

The North Korean regime has tested atomic bombs six times since 2006. The latest and most powerful nuclear test occurred in 2017, with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons. Pyongyang has mentioned a hydrogen bomb.

Satellite images have shown signs of activity in a tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in recent months.

Pyongyang claimed to have demolished this site in 2018 before a historic summit between Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump, the start of a brief phase of dialogue.

Faced with Pyongyang's warlike rhetoric , the United States and South Korea resumed their joint exercises, suspended since 2018 due to COVID-19 and a diplomatic warming, now over, between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The vice-president US President Kamala Harris traveled to Seoul this week and visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas, on a trip aimed at underscoring Washington's “unwavering” commitment to defending South Korea against the North.

Washington is Seoul's main security ally, with about 28,500 of its soldiers stationed in South Korea.