(From Reuters)

North Korea has started welcoming delegates from around the country to its first ruling party congress in 36 years, state media reported on Tuesday, as rival South Korea expressed concern that Pyongyang could conduct a nuclear test before or during the event.

People bow before the bronze statues of North Korea’s late leaders Kim Il-sung, left, and Kim Jong-il at Mansu Hill in Pyongyang

The North has conducted a series of weapons tests, including three failed launches of an intermediate-range missile, in the run-up to the Workers’ Party congress starting in Pyongyang on Friday.

North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un has aggressively pursued nuclear weapons and could be looking to a successful test this week as a crowning achievement. South Korean Defence Minister Han Min-koo said Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test may come before or around the time of the opening of the congress.

“North Korea’s goal is to be internationally recognized as a nuclear weapons state,” Han told a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday. “We believe its nuclear capability is advancing.” Read More

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