TOKYO, May 25 (KUNA) -- The South Korean Presidential Office said Wednesday that Pyongyang has been testing a nuclear triggering device apparently in preparation, Yonhap News Agency reported.
The experiments have been taking place at a location away from Punggye-ri, the site of all six North Korean nuclear tests in the past, said Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of the National Security Office.
"Operation tests of a nuclear detonation device, which are to prepare for the seventh nuclear test at Punggye-ri, are being detected," Kim was quoted as telling reporters in Seoul.
"The possibility of an imminent nuclear test in the next day or two is low, but after that, there is certainly a possibility."
The last time North Korea carried out a nuclear test was in September 2017, when it claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb.
The next few years saw the US engage in unprecedented summit-level diplomacy to try to get the North to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, but the effort ultimately failed.
This year the North has launched missiles on 17 separate occasions, the latest of which came early Wednesday as US President Joe Biden was en route to Washington after his visit to South Korea and Japan. Kim said he could not predict when the nuclear test would take place.
"The North Korean authorities are imminently near the final preparation stage for a nuclear test of a scale and quality they want." Kim also confirmed earlier assessments that Wednesday's launch involved one intercontinental ballistic missile of the newest Hwasong-17 model and two short-range ballistic missiles. (end)