South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy will travel to China this week, the foreign ministry said Tuesday, amid growing concern North Korea may test a nuclear bomb following its failed rocket launch last month.
Lim Sung-Nam will meet his counterpart Wu Dawei during the two-day visit starting Wednesday, said ministry spokeswoman Han Hye-Jin.
They would assess the situation following the launch on April 13 and discuss further action, she said.
China is the North’s closest ally but supported a United Nations Security Council statement which strongly condemned the launch and tightened existing sanctions.
The North rejected the criticism of what it called an attempted peaceful satellite launch. The United States and its allies said the exercise was an excuse to test ballistic missile technology in defiance of a UN ban.
There is strong speculation the North will follow up with a nuclear test, as it did in 2006 and 2009 following UN censure of missile launches in those years.
Satellite photos show work underway at its underground test site.
Seoul is not aware of any signs of an imminent nuclear test, the spokeswoman said, but is closely watching the situation “with serious concerns”.
In Washington Monday, US President Barack Obama warned North Korea that its “old pattern of provocation” was over and he would no longer follow a pattern of seeking to reward it for changing its ways.
Obama was speaking at a joint news conference with Japan’s prime minister Yoshihiko Noda, who warned of a “great possibility” that the North would carry out a nuclear test.