WASHINGTON — North Korea may be preparing for its third nuclear test, a show of defiance as the United Nations considers new sanctions on the dictatorship for conducting an underground nuclear explosion in May, a U.S. government official said Thursday.
North Korea conducted an underground explosion on May 25, its first since a 2006 atomic test. The official, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the unreleased information, would not provide details regarding the assessment.
A draft U.N. resolution proposed Wednesday would impose tough sanctions on North Korea's weapons exports and financial dealings and allow inspections of suspect cargo in ports and on the high seas. North Korea has threatened to retaliate if new sanctions are adopted.
North Korea already is a pariah to many countries and has been under tough economic sanctions for years. Last month's reported test defied a Security Council resolution adopted after the North's first underground atomic blast in October 2006.
The White House National Security Council would not comment on the assessment of a possible third nuclear test in the works.
"We have come to expect North Korea to act recklessly and dangerously," NSC spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement.