PUSHING FORWARD

North Korea Says It Will Hold Nuke Test When It Sees Fit

North Korea’s vice foreign minister said early Friday that the country would carry out its next nuclear test whenever its authorities see fit, amid mounting concerns in the West that a test launch may be scheduled for Saturday. Vice Minister Han Song Ryol told the Associated Press that Pyongyang won’t “keep its arm crossed” as the U.S. hints at a pre-emptive strike over the country’s nuclear ambitions. Describing tensions on the Korean Peninsula as a “vicious cycle,” Han did not say when the country would carry out its next nuclear test, though analysts have warned that the next test may be scheduled for Saturday to coincide with the birthday of Kim Il Sung, leader Kim Jong Un’s grandfather. Washington and Pyongyang have been butting heads more than usual in recent days after the U.S. Navy deployed a strike group near the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s “provocations.” Han’s comments also came after U.S. President Trump on Thursday offered a curt response to the ongoing spat with Pyongyang. “North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of,” Trump said, according to Reuters. The president went on to say he believes Beijing will help rein in North Korea’s nuclear threats. “I have really gotten to like and respect President Xi.... He’s a very special man. I think he’s going to try very hard” to resolve tensions with North Korea, Trump said.