The likelihood of North Korea conducting a fifth nuclear test, possibly within weeks, has increased because of its failed missile launch on Friday, which was an embarrassing setback for leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean officials and international experts said.

North Korea will hold a ruling Workers' Party congress in early May, at which Kim is likely to trumpet his achievements in building up Pyongyang's weapons prowess. South Korean officials and experts say he will be keen to go into the congress with a show of strength and not a failed rocket launch.

"North Korea is capable of conducting an additional nuclear test at any time if there is a decision by Kim Jong Un," said a senior South Korean official involved in national security policies involving the North, its bitter rival.