North Korea has reportedly geared up for another nuclear test, remaining defiant in the face of global censure after conducting its fifth and largest-yet test.
South Korea's Defense Ministry spokesman said on Monday that the rogue nation was ready to undertake a sixth test at any time, after claiming to have successfully tested a miniaturized nuclear warhead on Friday.
"Assessment by South Korean and U.S. intelligence is that the North is always ready for an additional nuclear test in thePunggye-ri area," South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a press conference. Punggye-ri, near the northeastern coast, is the site of the North's five nuclear explosions.
"North Korea has a tunnel where it can conduct an additional nuclear test," Moon said.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Forces official in South Korea told Reuters that the flight of a B-1B bomber to the Korean Peninsula, postponed on Monday due to bad weather, would go ahead on Tuesday.
Friday's test sparked criticism from the U.S. as well as neighbors China, South Korea and Japan and other countries. The U.N. Security Council said it would begin work immediately on a resolution, as the U.S., Britain and France pushed for the 15-member body to impose new sanctions, while a U.S. special envoy said the country may launch unilateral sanctions against North Korea.
Separately, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Monday that 35,500 homes had been damaged by massive flooding in North Korea, with 133 dead in the North East of the country, according to Reuters. The U.N. agency said that 107,000 people had been displaced by the floods and 395 people were missing, according to Reuters.
On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the country's nuclear tests were "absolutely unacceptable." while Japan's Defense Minister called North Korea a serious threat to international security.
But Pyongyang has so far shrugged off the fury caused by its nuclear test, which was conducted in violation of existing U.N. sanctions, as it has previous attempts to contain its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea said on Sunday that it was pushing ahead with a program to increase the quality and quantity of its "nuclear force," despite the threat of increased sanctions, describing how it was improving its nuclear-attack capabilities "moment by moment."
Any attempt by U.S. President Barack Obama to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power was "as foolish an act as trying to eclipse the sun with a palm," according to a statement by the North Korea's foreign ministry on the state-run KCNA news site.