SEOUL - South Korea’s government said Tuesday that its troops are readying for any North Korean nuclear test after "a lot of activity" was detected at its neighbor's underground nuclear test site at Punggye-ri.
A defense ministry spokesperson told press that the South's "forces are keeping in mind the possibility that North Korea may suddenly conduct a nuclear test in a short period of time."
U.S. President Barack Obama is due to arrive in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Friday for an overnight stay as part of a four-day Asia tour.
North Korea has long made the U.S. and South Korea a joint target of military threats, and recently warned via its state media in capital Pyongyang that it is preparing "something big" and "unimaginable" by the end of the month.
Last month the North also threatened to conduct a "new form" of nuclear test.
Spring has traditionally been a tense time on the Korean Peninsula. Last year, relations broke down to the point of global concern after the North conducted its third confirmed nuclear test in February.
The subsequent April saw Pyongyang announce the restart of operations at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, where it had stopped nuclear activity after talks with the U.S. in February 2012. The North also closed an inter-Korean industrial park at Kaesong, a collaborative economic development near the border to which it restricts access during tension between the sides.
April is important in the North Korean calendar, not least due to the anniversary of the birthday of its founder Kim Il-sung on April 15 and its Military Foundation Day on April 25.
In April 2009, the North drew the UN Security Council’s criticism when it was accused of testing long-range missile technology.
It failed with another long-range rocket launch in April 2012, the same month as current leader Kim Jong-un's formal accession to power.
The country is barred by a UN Security Council resolution from nuclear and missile tests.
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