Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday he believes North Korea now has the capability—or will soon—to fire missiles loaded with the lethal nerve agent sarin. Abe was speaking at a parliamentary panel on national security when he voiced the concern. His comments came as satellite images are reported to indicate the Hermit Kingdom’s testing grounds appear to be “primed and ready” for a sixth nuclear test. According to monitoring service 38 North, “the activity during the past six weeks is suggestive of the final preparations.” Analyst Joseph Bermudez, who, with colleagues, has accurately predicted other tests, said indicators that precede the tests include new equipment, excavation, and water pumps, and an uptick in activity. “We watch what changes from image to image,” he said. A new test could coincide with North Korea’s celebration of the birthday of its founder, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday.
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