South Korea is ready to request the U.N. Security Council hold an emergency meeting if North Korea follows through on its plan to conduct a nuclear test, a senior Seoul diplomat said Friday.
Predicting when North Korea will carry out the nuclear test is difficult, but the North's threats of a third nuclear test have kept officials in South Korea on tenterhooks.
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan is scheduled to visit New York early next week to preside over the Security Council's open debate.
"If North Korea conducts a nuclear test while Kim is in New York, he will immediately request the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency session," the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.
Kim is set to leave for New York on Monday for a four-day visit during which he is also expected to meet with U.N. ambassadors of the United States and Russia to discuss the nuclear test, according to the diplomat.
"During the meetings, Minister Kim will discuss possible Security Council measures in the event of a nuclear test by North Korea," said the diplomat, who has direct knowledge of South Korea's U.N. affairs.
If North Korea conducts a nuclear test before Kim's departure, the minister will cancel the planned visit and a vice foreign minister will preside over the debate, the diplomat said.
South Korea, the president of the 15-nation Security Council this month, will preside over the debate on Tuesday (New York time) on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, the diplomat said.
North Korea has vowed to conduct its third nuclear test in response to the U.N. Security Council resolution tightening sanctions against the country as punishment for its December rocket launch. The North previously detonated nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.
Officials in Seoul have said North Korea has completed all preparations and could detonate a nuclear device at any time.
South Korea has invited new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other top diplomats from the council members to take part in the open debate, but it has yet to be confirmed whether Kerry will attend, the diplomat said.