North Korea has strong technical reasons to carry out another nuclear test but may be hesitating because it would anger China, a prominent U.S. scientist who has often visited the reclusive Asian state said.
Stanford University’s Siegfried Hecker, who was shown a previously undetected uranium enrichment facility when he was last there three years ago, said the North had “everything in place” for what would be the fourth such explosion since 2006.
The impoverished country conducted its third nuclear test in February, prompting stiffer U.N. sanctions against it.
Like the United States and South Korea, China – North Korea’s sole major diplomatic ally – has urged Pyongyang to take steps to end its nuclear program and to return to dialogue.
Hecker said North Korea “needed additional tests in my opinion to miniaturize”, referring to the effort to develop a bomb small and robust enough to fit onto a delivery vehicle such as a missile.
The outside world tries to monitor North Korea’s nuclear advances largely via satellite images.