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North Korea began nuke tests after U.S. rejection, Russian diplomat says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea’s recent round of provocations are the result of a U.S. refusal to engage in peace talks, a Russian diplomat said. Pyongyang could conduct a fifth nuclear test, according to Seoul. Photo by James Mossman/USAF
North Korea’s recent round of provocations are the result of a U.S. refusal to engage in peace talks, a Russian diplomat said. Pyongyang could conduct a fifth nuclear test, according to Seoul. Photo by James Mossman/USAF | License Photo

SEOUL, March 28 (UPI) -- North Korea began a fresh round of nuclear provocations after the United States turned down an offer of peace talks, a Russian diplomat said.

The source, who was not unidentified, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that North Korea had hoped to restart a dialogue with Washington.

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North Korea's optimism was dashed when the United States rejected the offer, according to the source.

"At present, North Korea is seeking talks with the United States, but the goal is not being realized," the source said.

"Each time their terms of negotiations are turned down, North Korea tests nuclear weapons."

North Korea had stated in January it had "successfully" tested a hydrogen bomb, but the scale of the seismic waves of the ensuing quake along the North Korea-China border was too weak, according to Japan and to U.S. officials.

In recent weeks North Korea has stepped up its provocative rhetoric in the wake of heavier sanctions that passed unanimously at the United Nations Security Council, and in response to the military exercises ongoing on the Korean peninsula.

Pyongyang has also threatened the South Korean president with assassination, and vowed to turn Seoul into "powder" if provoked.

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The announcements have led to heightened security in parts of South Korea, and Seoul is raising concerns a fifth nuclear test could be next.

A South Korean military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told local newspaper Herald Business that a fifth test could take place at a moment's notice.

"North Korea has completed preparations to conduct a nuclear test at any time, and could conduct a test whenever it makes up its mind," the source said Monday.

The South Korean newspaper reported that intelligence gathering on all sides – South Korea, the United States, and Japan – has become more difficult because the North takes precautionary measures.

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