A South Korean official claimed Tuesday that further North Korean provocation, such as a nuclear test or missile launch, looks likely to be carried out this year, according to the Yonhap news agency.

South Korean Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo was quoted as saying that "given signs for preparations for a nuclear test, North Korea is likely to make another provocation this year."

He added that Oct. 10, which will be the 71st anniversary of the founding of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, seems a likely candidate for the next atomic test or launch of a long-range missile.

North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test — its largest yet — on Sept. 9, drawing global criticism.

Its fourth test of a nuclear device was carried out in January, followed by the launch of a long-range rocket, said to be a test of banned ballistic missile technology, in February.

Pyongyang has a history of carrying out such acts on or around key dates in the country's history. The fifth nuclear test took place on the anniversary of its founding.

The isolated nation has been subjected to harsh U.N. sanctions over its missile and nuclear weapons programs, which have continued in defiance of U.N. sanctions.