N Korea 'could stage 3rd nuclear test'
11 January 2012, 10:04
Seoul - North Korea could conduct a third nuclear
test or long-range missile launch this year as its new leader Kim
Jong-Un tries to strengthen his authority, a South Korean think-tank
said on Wednesday.
There are also "ample possibilities" of
limited attacks on the South by military commanders competing to
demonstrate loyalty to Jong-Un, the Institute for Foreign Affairs and
National Security (IFANS) said in a report.
The untested Jong-Un,
aged in his late 20s, was proclaimed supreme leader after his father
Kim Jong-Il died of a heart attack on December 17.
which is affiliated to the South's foreign ministry, said Jong-Un is
likely to take "risky actions" to strengthen his regime by showcasing
his own accomplishments.
It said he may stage missile and nuclear
tests in the last half of 2012, when presidential elections are held in
the United States and South Korea, or in the first half of 2013 when
new administrations are settling in.
"In particular, Kim Jong-Un
may attempt to stage a uranium bomb test in order to maximise
international impact and showcase his own achievements," the report
The North in November 2010 disclosed an apparently
operational uranium enrichment plant, which could give it a second way
to make a nuclear bomb in addition to its plutonium-based weaponry.
talks on the North's nuclear disarmament have been stalled since
December 2008. The US and other negotiating partners say the North
should shut down the uranium plant before negotiations resume.
IFANS said six-party talks could resume in the first half of this year but would make hardly any progress.
ties have been icy since Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing a
warship which sank with the loss of 46 lives in March 2010. The North
denied the charge but shelled a South Korean border island in November
2010, killing four.
The report said similar attacks were likely "any time".
The North under its new leader has kept up its harsh criticism of the South's conservative government.