September 29, 2022 12:58
North Korea is likely to conduct another nuclear test between Oct. 16 and Nov. 7, the National Intelligence Service here said Wednesday.
In a closed-door briefing to the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee, the NIS said North Korea has already prepared a tunnel at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear test.
The NIS told the committee that if the North indeed conducts a nuclear test, it would likely take place between Oct. 16, the end of the Chinese Communist Party's National Congress, and Nov. 7, the day of the U.S. mid-term elections, according to lawmakers present at the briefing.
North Korea tends to pick historically significant dates or international events to draw maximum attention to its provocations.
The NIS also confirmed that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged several letters -- six from Kim to Xi and two from Xi.
The spy agency said it is difficult to trust North Korea’s announcement that the coronavirus pandemic has ended given that it has repeatedly lifted lockdown and imposed it again. But North Korea has now apparently received coronavirus vaccines from China and began large-scale vaccinations near the border.
The NIS also dismissed U.K. media reports that Kim's second daughter appeared in a performance to mark the regime's founding anniversary earlier this month.
Asked about the reports, officials told the committee that is very unlikely considering how the Kim family is managed.
Regarding the North Korean leader's weight, the NIS said after substantial weight loss it seems returned to between 130-140 kg, but there are no signs of health problems.
NIS briefings are in principle confidential, but lawmakers customarily brief the press on matters without security risks.
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