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Seoul (AFP) Nov 8, 2012
South Korea's defence minister said Thursday that North Korea has completed preparations for another nuclear test, and would also test-launch long-range missiles sometime in the future.
"Many preparations have been made for a third nuclear test," Kim Kwan-Jin told reporters, adding the timing would depend on "a political decision".
The communist country carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
Kim also predicted that the North would make another attempt at some time to test-fire a long-range missile, after the failure of its rocket launch in April.
Pyongyang said its intention was to put a peaceful research satellite into orbit, while Washington and its allies saw the exercise as a disguised test of banned ballistic missile technology.
In September, US website 38 North said satellite imagery showed the North had halted work at a site capable of launching intercontinental missiles, possibly setting the project back by up to two years.
The website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said the cause of the work stoppage was unclear, although heavy rain might be a factor.
The new launch pad, being built in the northeast of the country, had been scheduled for completion around 2015, it said.
Even if completion is delayed, Pyongyang could still test longer-range rockets at a northwestern base, the website said.
Satellite images showed "refurbishment" underway on an existing mobile launch pad used to test long-range rockets, it said.
S. Korea activists float leaflets, condoms into N. Korea
The launch went ahead despite a recent threat from Pyongyang of military strikes against similar propaganda exercises by North Korean defectors.
Activists used 20 gas-filled balloons to float packages containing 150,000 leaflets and 5,000 condoms across the western part of the border in Yeoncheon County.
"We've heard condoms are particularly difficult to secure in the North," said Bong Tae-Hong, who heads the right-wing activist group Right Korea.
"North Koreans also need them as contraceptives and for protection against sexually transferred diseases," Bong told AFP.
Also included in the packages were sanitary pads, electric torches, sweets, underwear, socks and toothpaste.
South Korean police blocked a similar leafleting exercise last month by a group of North Korean defectors, after Pyongyang said it would respond with a "merciless" military attack.
The balloon launches take place regularly and are usually carried out by three distinct groups -- North Korean defectors, Christian activists and right-wing organisations.
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