South Korea On Heightened Alert As North Prepares For Major Army Event
Just two days after China warned that April 25 is the "highest probability" day for a North Korean nuclear test, South Korea said on Friday that it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.
Recall that on Wednesday, Boxun News cited a Chinese source who said that "China believes there is the “highest possibility” of a nuclear test on April 25, but “does not leave out the possibility it might take action in early May."
North Korea test-fired what the United States believed was a mid-range missile on Sunday. It blew up almost immediately. The failed launch came a day after the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il Sung, the current leader's grandfather. There is concern the North will use the next big day on its calendar, April 25, to show off its strength.
"Although North Korea attempted a missile launch but failed on April 16, considering the April 25 anniversary of the Korean People's Army, there are concerns that it can make another provocation again at any time," South Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn told top officials on Thursday. He called on the military to maintain readiness.
Additionally, as discussed yesterday, Beijing is not taking any chances: U.S. officials said on Thursday there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signaling a possible heightened state of readiness by China, although the officials played down concern and left open a range of possible reasons. At the same time a Kremlin spokesman declined to comment on media reports that Russia was moving military hardware and troops toward the border with North Korea, the RIA news agency quoted him as saying.
U.S. and South Korean officials have been saying for weeks that the North could soon stage another nuclear test in violation of United Nations sanctions, something both the United States and China have warned against. That test could likely take place on April 25, when North Korea marks the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army, an important anniversary that comes at the end of major winter military drills, South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng said.