N.Korea 'Poised to Conduct Nuclear Test'

North Korea appears to have completed preparations for a nuclear test with the installation of measuring equipment near the entrance of an underground test site in Pungye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, a senior government official here said Thursday.

South Korea and the U.S. are considering military steps in addition to diplomatic pressure and economic sanctions if the North goes ahead with the test.

President Lee Myung-bak convened an emergency meeting with diplomatic and security officials on Thursday morning to discuss Seoul's options. In a statement issued after the meeting, the government said, "If North Korea pushes ahead with another provocation by misjudging the situation, it must be warned that serious consequences will follow."

A government official said, "We believe North Korea could conduct a nuclear test as early as tomorrow if it wants to, so we are closely monitoring the situation."

Meanwhile, the U.S. dispatched a reconnaissance plane with highly sensitive detection equipment to Okinawa, the New York Times reported Thursday. It "may be able to answer the question of whether the North has moved to a new generation of homemade uranium weapons," the daily added.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 01, 2013 09:09 KST