North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, has reportedly called for a third nuclear test in protest at UN sanctions against the reclusive state.
Open Radio of North Korea, a Seoul-based rights group, quoting unnamed Pyongyang sources, said last week Kim had told military and ruling party officials to prepare for a new test.
The North conducted a first such test in 2006 and a second in May, sparking tough UN Security Council sanctions.
According to Open Radio, Kim said during a trip to Wonsan on the east coast on August 26 that a third test was needed to nudge the US towards bilateral talks as well as to protest against UN sanctions. North Korea quit the six-way talks which also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea in April in protest at UN censure of a rocket launch.
The US government said on Friday it was ready to hold direct talks with North Korea in a bid to bring Pyongyang back to six-nation nuclear disarmament negotiations, marking a significant policy shift. Washington had previously said that bilateral talks with Pyongyang would come only within the framework of six-party talks.
Young Howard, head of Open Radio of North Korea, on Wednesday separately told Seoul-based PBC radio that a third nuclear test would very likely use enriched uranium, instead of the plutonium used in the first two tests. He said he expected the test to occur between September 20 and October 10.