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North Korea preparing for another test: US officials

Senior defence officials say that recent intelligence suggests that the North Koreans appear to be ready to test a nuclear weapon again.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2007 11:32 IST

North Korea appears to have made preparation for another nuclear test, American officials said here.

"We think they've put everything in place to conduct a test without any notice or warning," an unidentified United States defence official was quoted as saying by ABC News.

The official, the report said, cautioned that the intelligence is inconclusive as to whether North Korea will actually go ahead with another test but said the preparations are similar to the steps taken by Pyongyang before it shocked the world by conducting its first nuclear test last October.

Two other senior defence officials said that recent intelligence suggested that the North Koreans appear to be ready to test a nuclear weapon again, but the intelligence community is divided over whether another test is likely.

"That would surprise me," a senior intelligence official said when asked if North Korea is likely to soon conduct another test.

Another official, the report said, had a different view, predicting North Korea would conduct a test sometime over the next two or three months.

In the weeks before the October 9 test, US spy satellites witnessed the unloading of large cables at a suspected test site in P'onggye, in northeastern North Korea.

The Council specifically called for North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons completely and irreversibly, as well as to put an end to its biological and chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, and ballistic missile programs.

The United States and Japan had pushed for stronger sanctions but eventually watered down the resolution to appease China and Russia, which feared that tougher sanctions might only make the situation worse.