As if the region needed to grow hotter at this moment of all eyes being on Nancy Pelosi's Asia trip and potential landing in Taiwan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday that North Korea is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test.
The words came as Blinken addressed 10th NPT Review Conference (or Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) at UN headquarters in New York. He stressed ongoing nuclear threats posted by North Korea and Iran during the speech, saying "And so we come together at a critical moment. The DPRK continues to expand its unlawful nuclear program and continues its ongoing provocations against the region."
US Secretary of State Blinken:— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) August 1, 2022
- North Korea preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test
- Iran has been either unwilling or unable to accept a deal to return to nuclear agreement
- Getting back to nuclear deal remains the best outcome for US, Iran, world pic.twitter.com/onz7Jkyfuu
That's when he specified, "As we gather today Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test. Iran remains on a path of nuclear escalation." He said while also citing officials in Seoul that it's the US assessment that the North has completed "all preparations" for a nuclear test, but that the timing is as yet uncertain.
He cited the US position as that which "seeks to avoid costly arms races" - though perhaps ironically the assertion comes even as Washington ramps up arms shipment to Ukraine to repel Russia, in proxy war fashion.
It has been years since North Korea has conducted a nuclear test, with the last known test having happened in September 2017, which was met with international condemnation. Pyongyang formally abandoned its participation in the NPT starting in January 2003.
Last month the US, Japan, and South Korea agreed to coordinate closely on deterring threats from North Korea. Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said three weeks ago while Blinken was visiting, "North Korea's nuclear and missile development poses a threat to the peace and stability of Japan and the international community, and is totally unacceptable."
As for Iran, the nuclear deal which has been focus of the long drawn-out Vienna process has been hanging by a thread, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borell having this weekend offered a last-ditch proposal to revive the JCPOA.
At the same time, Israel has ramped up its rhetoric, saying it reserves the right to attack the Islamic Republic if it's on the cusp of achieving nuclear weapons - a threat that's been repeated consistently from various Israeli officials in recent months.