Updated January. 28, 2013 06:27
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely to lead an imminent nuclear test onsite after commanding last month`s launch of a long-range rocket by Pyongyang, military sources said Sunday.
The sources said South Korean military authorities are gathering intelligence on the pending nuclear test, adding that Kim will visit a nuclear test site in Punggye-ri in North Hamgyong Province to give the go-ahead to the test and command the full process.
Last month, the North Korean leader visited a missile base in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, to give a handwritten order to launch the Unha-3 long-range rocket. The Norths state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on the launch two days later, and the Rodong Sinmun, the official daily of the ruling North Korean Workers` Party, carried Kims handwritten order on its front page.
A military source said, Kim Jong Un will likely give an order approving a nuclear test to propagate his political and military achievements as the countrys supreme military commander and use it to consolidate his regime.
South Korean and U.S. intelligence are closely tracking the movements of senior North Korean officials to see if they visit the test site, as they are likely to conduct preliminary checks on preparations if Kim takes command of the test. In addition, their visits could help predict the timing of the nuclear test. A senior military official in Seoul said, We`ve detected brisk movements of vehicles and personnel coming in and out of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site over the last several days.
North Korean media also said Sunday that Kim chaired a meeting of national security and diplomatic officials and expressed his firm intent to take substantial and high-profile important state measures. The reports added that he gave the officials specific tasks, without elaborating on what they were.
In Seoul, the commander of the U.S. Forces Korea warned of the possibility of Pyongyang committing another armed provocation and of his forces` vulnerability in a meeting with U.S. troops and their families. Gen. James Thurman, U.S. Forces Korea commander, also said the U.S. should pay attention to the dangerous man in the North and that this guy is in charge, implying that Pyongyang will soon commit a provocation under Kim`s direct command.