Bloomberg News – South Korea warned that North Korea may test a nuclear weapon after a planned missile launch this month that has raised regional tensions and drawn U.S. warnings on the eve of parliamentary elections tomorrow in the South.
North Korean activity at the Punggye-ri atomic testing site is consistent with preparations for previous detonations in 2006 and 2009, a South Korean intelligence report obtained yesterday by Bloomberg News said. Korean Air (003490) said it will divert flights serving Indonesia, Philippines and Beijing from April 12-16 because of the launch planned for then, according to an e-mailed statement today.
China, South Korea and Japan expressed concern over North Korea’s plan to put a satellite into orbit with a long-range rocket, which the U.S. says would scuttle a food aid deal. The launch, which will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung, comes less than four months since Kim Jong Un succeeded his father as head of the totalitarian state.
“The timing is impeccable,” said Park Young Ho, senior research fellow and director at Korea Institute for National Unification. “Kim Jong Un is taking advantage of the domestic North Korean celebrations of Kim Il Sung to aggressively influence South Korean elections.”
South Korea’s benchmark Kospi Index rose as much as 0.7 percent after yesterday falling the most in a month. Defense- related shares fell after rising yesterday by the daily limit of 15 percent.