North Korea fired numerous artillery shells Friday night. The South Korean military said it detected the first of about 80 artillery shells in the maritime border area between North Korea and South Korea shortly before midnight on Thursday. North Korea's behavior was a violation of the 2018 agreement between the two countries, it said. The South Korean Defense Ministry had sent a warning to North Korea, he said.
On Thursday, North Korea had again fired several ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan, including an apparent intercontinental ballistic missile, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. The United States condemned the missile test. It called on the UN Security Council to publicly discuss North Korea's missile tests on Friday. The U.S. believes North Korea is preparing for a nuclear bomb test. However, it is not clear exactly when the test is expected to take place, a U.S. government official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters in an exclusive interview.
However, the United States believed Russia and China could convince the North Korean government not to resume nuclear testing, saying, "China and Russia have long opposed North Korea's nuclear program. We believe and expect that they will use their influence to persuade the People's Republic of North Korea not to conduct a nuclear test."
The official urged Pyongyang to resume dialogue with the United States. Washington, he said, is willing to engage directly with North Korea to discuss humanitarian assistance. He dismissed growing calls by some North Korea experts to recognize the country as a nuclear power that will never disarm.
"There is an extraordinarily strong global consensus that North Korea cannot and should not be a nuclear power," the U.S. government official said.
Earlier in September, North Korea passed a nuclear weapons law that provides for the right to launch a nuclear first strike in self-defense. It also makes its status as a nuclear power "irreversible," according to state media in the country.
Photo by Micha BrÃ¤ndli