U.S. urges North Korea to stop its provocationsUpdated: 2014-05-01 03:43:38 (KST)
The press secretary of the Pentagon, John Kirby, called on North Korea on Tuesday to stop its provocations that are stirring up tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Kirby's comments came in response to North Korea's live-fire drill near the de facto maritime border with South Korea in the West Sea on Tuesday, during which 50 heavy artillery shells were fired.
It was the latest in a string of provocative acts from north of the border.
The larger question though is, what's next?
The speculation is that the North will conduct a fourth nuclear test in the near future, but determining when is another story.
Despite thorough analysis of several commercial satellite images, Joel Wit, a senior fellow with the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said it's hard to predict.
While Wit said that there are currently no signs that a test is imminent, he added that North Korea is almost certain to carry out a test at some point.
Some experts believe that North Korea will conduct its nuclear test during the U.S. mid-term elections in November.
"At this moment, North Korea's fourth nuclear test is not imminent, it is obvious. The problem is the fourth nuclear test maybe reserve on holding mode for the time being to select a symbolic timing considering changing political landscape in the region including the United States' mid-election and other neighboring countries' political situation."
While we wait, the North Korean regime continues to talk up its nuclear program.
The regime on Tuesday condemned U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Northeast Asia and said it would strengthen its nuclear deterrent.
The North's National Defence Commission said it has the capacity to carry out "something bigger" than a boosted fission nuclear weapon test or a new inter-continental ballistic missile launch and that the regime would not dismantle the program under any circumstances.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.
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