Two top North Korea nuclear and missile officials were absent from recent celebrations in the reclusive communist regime, raising concerns that another nuclear test is imminent.
Ri Man Gon and Kim Rak Gyom were both absent from large-scale celebrations on Saturday and Tuesday, South Korean newspaper Chosunilbo reported. Ri is the supervisor of the department for the nuclear and missile development, while Kim leads the strategic rocket forces.
North Korea held a mass rally on Saturday and celebrated the anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The regime is known to test nuclear weapons and missiles on major holidays, but no blast or launch occurred on either day.
“There’s little chance that Ri and Kim have been dismissed or purged because they’ve been praised for major achievements recently,” a government-funded think tank staffer told Chosunilbo. “It’s highly likely that they were absent because they’d been given an important assignment.”
The U.S. Geological Survey detected a magnitude-2.9 earthquake on Thursday in the same area that North Korea conducted prior nuclear tests. USGS could not confirm the nature of the tremor, but it was significantly weaker than a magnitude-6.3 hydrogen bomb test Pyongyang carried out on Sept. 3.
Officials and watchdogs warned about an imminent test on the two key dates, but all was quiet, signaling that President Donald Trump’s fire-and-fury threats may be working.
Pyongyang’s communist dictator Kim Jong Un has so far been undeterred by intense threats from the American president and tightening United Nations sanctions. After testing the hydrogen bomb on Sept. 3, North Korea fired two missiles over Japan that crashed into the ocean.
President Trump renewed the threat to North Korea recently in a seemingly cryptic manner. At a meeting with top military officials, he said that this might be “the calm before the storm.” When asked what he meant, Trump said, “you’ll find out.”
Four days ago, Trump also sent an ominous threat to Kim, whom he refers to as “Little Rocket Man”, on Twitter.
“Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid. Hasn’t worked, agreements violated before the ink was dry, makings fools of U.S. negotiators,” Trump wrote. “Sorry, but only one thing will work!”
After a period of uncertainty, a Trump official clarified that by “one thing” the president meant military options in North Korea.
Trump is a fierce opponent of communism and has often referred to it as a deadly and destructive ideology. North Korea is a typical late-stage communist regime, with millions of people living in terror and the majority of the populace destitute under a corrupt elite class. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people are feared to have perished in the nationwide network of forced labor camps.