north korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets scientists and technicians in the field of research into nuclear weapons in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, March 9, 2016. KCNA/Files via Reuters

North Korea is likely to conduct a nuclear test during the South Korean presidential election next year, according to a former North Korean diplomat. Pyongyang has garnered criticism for its series of nuclear and missile tests this year.

Thae Yong Ho, who defected to South Korea in July, told the country’s officials Friday that the North’s foreign ministry has sent documents to its overseas missions saying that it is planning to conduct a sixth and a seventh nuclear test next year.

"In particular, it calls for preparations as North Korea would seek to conduct a nuclear test around the presidential election," Thae said in a closed-door parliamentary intelligence committee session, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

North Korea seeks to be recognized as a nuclear country — similar to India or Pakistan, according to Thae. The U.S. and South Korea have rejected such a status for the isolated nation. Pyongyang sees the prime time for getting such recognition during the early stages of the new U.S. administration, which means late 2017 or early 2018, the news agency reported.

"After being recognized as a nuclear state, North Korea hopes to resolve pending issues through international dialogue," Thae said.

South Korea is expected to conduct a presidential election early next year following the impeachment of its embattled President Park Geun Hye on Dec. 9 over a political influence scandal.

On Thursday, North Korea accused its neighbor South Korea of trying to influence Pyongyang ambassadors across the world to defect in a secretly ongoing international campaign, which it called a “political terror” by Seoul.

"This is clearly political terror, trying to cause social chaos and bloodshed inside a sovereign state," Ju Wang Hwan, a North Korean ministry official for the Institute for Disarmament and Peace, reportedly said.