US intel report claims DPRK likely to conduct nuclear test again
The report claims that the DPRK leader will continue to test nuclear-capable missiles in order to normalize the issue.
The US claimed on Wednesday that DPRK will "probably" test a nuclear weapon again and will continue to carry out nuclear-capable missile tests as the country's leader Kim Jong Un aims to "normalize Pyongyang's [nuclear] missile testing."
Since 2006, the DPRK has carried out six confirmed nuclear tests, the last one being in 2017, which was considered to be the largest one of them all.
"North Korea probably is preparing to test a nuclear device to further its stated military modernization goals," said the 2023 Annual Threat Assessment report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Read more: Nuclear deterrence ensures balance of power in region: DPRK
"Kim almost certainly views nuclear weapons and ICBMs as the ultimate guarantor of his autocratic rule and has no intention of abandoning those programs, believing that over time he will gain international acceptance as a nuclear power," the report added.
The East Asian country has test-fired over 60 intercontinental and ballistic missiles in 2022 - some of which can reach the US mainland, as per US claims - a significant increase in rate compared to previous years, as the US and its allies in the region continue their military provocations and threats against the sanctioned and besieged nation.
DPRK "timed its missile launches" in the past six months to take place during joint US-South Korea military drills, the report further claimed, adding that "Pyongyang probably wants the alliance to decrease the pace and scale of the exercises with the ultimate goal of undermining the strength" of US-South Korea military ties.
Read more: DPRK may deem further US hostilities a 'declaration of war'
Last week, Seoul and Washington announced their largest joint military drill ever, to take place from March 13 to 23.
The two countries also conducted a combined air drill with a US long-range bomber and South Korean fighter aircraft on Friday, the latest in their series of joint training in recent weeks.
DPRK on Saturday blamed Washington for what it called the collapse of international arms control systems and considered that Pyongyang's nuclear weapons were "the surest way" to ensure the balance of power in the region.
On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK called on the United Nations to urge a halt to joint military drills by Seoul and Washington.
Foreign Minister Kim Son Gyong underlined that the drills and rhetoric from the two allies have pushed tensions to an "extremely dangerous level," stressing that the "UN and the international community will have to strongly urge the U.S. and South Korea to immediately halt their provocative remarks and joint military exercises."
The "irresponsible acts" of the allies will only take the regional situation "to a very critical and uncontrollable phase," Kim warned.
Read more: South Korean leader to visit US in April on second official trip