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N. Korea 62 pct likely to conduct nuclear or missile test in next 30 days: think tank

2017/03/13 08:24

WASHINGTON, March 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is 62 percent likely to conduct a nuclear test or a missile launch in the next 30 days, a U.S. think tank has predicted based on analysis of big data on the communist nation.

The study, conducted jointly by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and big data firm Predata, analyzed how often the North is discussed on the Internet to predict future possibilities, with a higher frequency meaning stronger "signals."

   Signals on the North's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) showed a "notable spike" beginning March 4, just two days before the North's firing of a salvo of four ballistic missiles toward the East Sea, according to Beyond Parallel, the CSIS website specializing in North Korea issues.

Those signals have since remained elevated, indicating there are more March missile tests to come from North Korea, it said.

"There is a 43 percent chance of North Korean WMD activity taking place in the next 14 days. In the next 30 days, there is a 62 percent chance for North Korean WMD activity. Beyond Parallel defines WMD activity as nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches," it said.

The North's March 6 missile launches represent the second major provocative act by Pyongyang since U.S. President Donald Trump took office. In its first provocation under Trump, the North test-fired a newly developed intermediate-range ballistic missile on Feb. 12.

The latest launches were seen as a show of force by Pyongyang in response to the ongoing annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States that the North has long denounced as a rehearsal for an invasion of the country.

Concerns have persisted that Pyongyang could carry out more missile launches, including a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the continental U.S. that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened to conduct.

Commercial satellite imagery has also shown continued activity at the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site, a possible indication that Pyongyang may be preparing to conduct its sixth nuclear test after two nuclear tests last year.