Is North Korea planning a nuclear test soon?

As the United States and China renew their calls for North Korea to return to &to=http:// ' target=_blank>nuclear talks, Pyongyang is stepping up its rhetoric and pledging to defy any pressure for it to disarm.

Throughout the North Korean nuclear crisis, Pyongyang has resorted to defiant and often insulting language against the United States and its leaders.

Tuesday, a state-run newspaper in Pyongyang accused Washington of "making a fuss" over speculation that the North may be planning a nuclear test soon.

Along with what has become a usual list of personal attacks against President Bush, the commentary repeated Pyongyang's earlier assertions that it would not deal further with his administration.

Referring to the possibility that the United States might refer the case of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons to the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>U.N. Security Council, the commentary declared that North Korea's "bold stance" is to let the United States do what it wants, tells VOA News.

There is no agreement among experts on whether North Korea has the capacity or the desire to test a nuclear weapon. But some analysts believe dictator Kim Jong-Il sees nuclear weapons as the key to survival for his bankrupt Stalinist leadership.

Recent media reports from the United States have quoted US officials as saying North Korea has been preparing to launch an underground nuclear test since March and might conduct one as early as June.

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