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No sign of imminent N.Korean nuclear test: South

Reuters | August 28 2006

A senior South Korean intelligence official said on Monday there were no signs of an imminent North Korean nuclear test but the reclusive state always had its test facilities ready to go.

U.S. and Japanese news reports over the past two weeks cited intelligence officials as saying there have been suspicious vehicle movements at a possible test site, indicating North Korea may be preparing to set off its first atomic bomb,

"However, there are no signs or movements that suggest North Korea is preparing to test a nuclear weapon (for now)," National Intelligence Service director Kim Seung-kyu was quoted as telling a parliamentary intelligence committee, Yonhap news reported.

"As its facilities for a nuclear test are always on standby, the possibility of a North Korean nuclear test is always open if (the North's) Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il makes a decision," Kim was quoted as saying about the North's leader by committee chairman Shin Ki-nam, it said.

National Intelligence officials were not immediately available for comment. The remarks are the first from a named senior agency official on the possible nuclear test since the reports came out.

North Korea defied international warnings and test-fired seven missiles on July 5.

Last week, South Korea's foreign minister said a nuclear test would be far more serious than the missile launch.

North Korea declared itself a nuclear weapons power in February 2005, without testing.

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