S Korean Intelligence Says N Korea Finished Preparations for New Nuclear Test

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service reported Monday that North Korea had completed preparations for a new nuclear test and would possibly carry it out during the US-South Korean drills.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) said Monday that North Korea has completed preparations for another nuclear test at its Punggye-ri test site, adding that Pyongyang was likely to launch a ballistic missile during the ongoing US-South Korean Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) military drills or on September 9 to commemorate the anniversary of its state’s foundation.

“Preparations for the nuclear test have been completed at the second and third tunnels [of Punggye-ri],” the intelligence service’s representative told a parliamentary briefing, as quoted by the Yonhap news agency.

The NIS also suggested that North Korea would carry out another missile launch in the coming days either during the UFG drill, or around September 9, marking the Day of the Foundation of the Republic.

“There is the possibility that the North will launch a ballistic missile on the Foundation Anniversary [September 9], and we are preparing for that,” the NIS said.

When briefing the parliament on Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) re-entry technologies, the agency noted that it was “at a low level,” based on its analysis of a photo, released by North Korean state-run media.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have recently flared up following the adoption of the UN Security Council sanctions in early August in response to Pyongyang’s July missile launches. The move led to North Korea trading threats and warnings with the United States, with Pyongyang saying it might consider an attack on the area near the US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific.

Despite the improvement of rhetoric over recent days, Washington and Seoul started their joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise in South Korea on August 21, which is expected to last until August 31. Pyongyang condemned the drills saying they would only escalate the situation in the region.