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Chinese expert says North Korea could conduct nuclear test in May

In April, North Korea carried out several missile tests the latest of which took place on April 28, only a few hours after the UN SC held a meeting to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula

SHANGHAI, May 10. /TASS/. There is a strong possibility that North Korea will conduct a new nuclear test in May, Executive Director of the Institute of International Relations at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Liu Ming said in an interview with TASS.

"In April, North Korea launched several missiles but they all failed," he said. "There was no nuclear test in April but it does not mean that North Korea will not conduct one in May. I believe there is a strong possibility that the country will hold the next nuclear test this month," the Chinese expert noted saying that these plans were the main reason for the current tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

"According to my estimates, tensions on the Korean Peninsula will remain in May and June for Pyongyang is highly likely to conduct another nuclear test during this period," Professor Liu Ming pointed out. He added that "North Korea is playing for time choosing the right moment, because all the preparations for the sixth nuclear test have been completed."

The Chinese expert also expressed his opinion on the possible consequences of a new nuclear test. "I think, after the sixth nuclear test, the window of possibilities to solve the North Korea issue will almost completely close. Only a few chances will remain to solve the issue using diplomatic methods," Professor Liu Ming said. He noted that "if Pyongyang conducts another nuclear test, then China will have to reduce its economic aid to North Korea."

"Of course, it will affect bilateral trade. As far as the United States, South Korea and Japan are concerned, they will insist on tightening sanctions through the United Nations Security Council. Washington will also demand that other countries sever diplomatic relations with North Korea," the Chinese expert added.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula began to grow in early 2016 when North Korea conducted a nuclear test and after that launched a ballistic missile carrying a satellite. In September 2016, Pyongyang carried out another nuclear test, while more than 20 missiles were test-fired during the year.

In April 2017, North Korea carried out several missile tests the latest of which took place on April 28, only a few hours after the United Nations Security Council had held a meeting to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, in early March, the media reported that North Korea was making preparations for the sixth nuclear test.

"To restart the six-way talks, it is necessary to get back to the situation in 2005, when a joint declaration was passed (on September 19, 2005) on North Korea’s renunciation of nuclear weapons," said Liu Ming.

"If we speak about restarting this format now, under the current requirements of the US, the DPRK on its own must come out with an initiative and pledge to scrap its nuclear program. However now, after five nuclear tests and given that a sixth one is underway, the chances of North Korea abandoning its nuclear program are slim," he noted.

"The US and South Korea are not ready to discuss arms controls within the framework of six-nation negotiations, unless their aim is to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. And this is the barrier that now impedes the revival of the talks," the expert stated.

He said one of the main obstacles was because of the US and the DPRK. "Pyongyang is firmly committed to continuing its military nuclear program. The US comes out against it and intends to take concrete measures. The Trump administration is in a serious mood for concrete action. That is why the main contradictions at the moment are those between the US and the DPRK," Liu Ming said.

"Everything now is revolving around the nuclear issue and the contradictions existing between the US and the DPRK. Restarting the six-party negotiations makes no particular sense under the current conditions," he resumed. "First of all, direct negotiations are needed between the US and the DPRK," the Chinese expert noted, adding that only progress at such talks could make the restoration of the six-nation format talks worthwhile.