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North Korea 'could test bomb this weekend'

London Telegraph | October 6 2006

North Korea may carry out a nuclear test as early as this weekend, according to a senior Japanese diplomat.

Shotaro Yachi, the Japanese deputy foreign minister, made the claim after talks with US security officials in Washington.

Japan has said that it is stepping-up monitoring of its neighbour as a contingency, though it has no solid information that a test is imminent.

On Tuesday the Stalinist state said it was preparing to trial a nuclear device, in an apparent attempt to blackmail America into dropping economic sanctions.

Some analysts have suggested that a test could come as early as Sunday, the anniversary of Kim Jong Il's appointment as head of the Korean Workers' Party in 1997.

Mr Yachi said: "Based on the development so far, it would be best to view that a test is possible this weekend."

Japan has two intelligence-gathering satellites and launched a third in September that can monitor the North's nuclear weapons and missile programs.

On Wedneday the US detected activity in North Korea indicating possible preparations for an underground nuclear test. Spy satellites have picked up unusual movement of vehicles at potential test sites.


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