North Korea may be delaying nuclear test because of China, COVID – reports

North Korea may be delaying nuclear test because of China, COVID – reports

South Korean presidential official says North Korea may be delaying its seventh nuclear test due to China’s political calendar and its own situation with Covid-19.

North Korea has been reported for weeks to be “preparing for a nuclear test” at its Punggye-ri testing facility, with the only remaining step being a “political decision” by leader Kim Jong-un, according to Yonhap news agency.

“I think the China variable and the Covid-19 variable are playing into this,” the official told reporters, citing the upcoming 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in the fall.

“It appears that North Korea is making a considerable effort out of concern for the major chaos that would be caused by a seventh nuclear test, although we haven’t been able to verify it,” he said.

Because China is North Korea’s “only major political ally and economic benefactor,” staging a large provocation ahead of a key political event could sour relations with Beijing.

Another reason for the delay, according to the official, could be the severity of the Covid-19 outbreak in the north.

By Brendan Taylor

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