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38 North: ‘N. Korea completed preparation at Punggye-ri nuclear test site’

38 North: ‘N. Korea completed preparation at Punggye-ri nuclear test site’

Posted April. 14, 2017 07:27,   

Updated April. 14, 2017 07:40


Circumstantial evidence suggesting that North Korea is close to conducting its sixth nuclear test has been detected again. Constant movements and signs of human activities have been monitored at the nuclear test site, escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula.

“The Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Kilju County in North Hamgyong Province in North Korea is primed and ready,” 38 North, a website devoted to North Korea affairs, said on Wednesday. Citing photos of the Punggye-ri test site from a commercial satellite on Wednesday, the website said, “North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the Main Administrative Area, and a few personnel around the site’s Command Center.”

Satellite imagery shows a small vehicle or trailer is located outside the entrance to the portal, and the water flow from the portal has also declined over the past 10 days. A small trailer has also been seen on the road south of the portal. Eleven transport pallets loaded with equipment and covered with tarp were seen placed at key supporting areas, and people were seen moving around the Command Center, guard barracks and a security checkpoint. However, no notable signs of movements have been sported at west and south portals.

The North Portal at Punggye-ri was the site where the North carried out four nuclear tests in succession including the second test in May 2009 and the fifth test on September 9 last year. Images of activities to transport freight and equipment have been constantly spotted at the North Portal areas since October last year. According to 38 North last month, it detected through satellite imagery taken on March 28 scenes of some 100 people making a formation at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and claimed that it was similar to the situation about a month before the North conducted its third nuclear test in February 2013.

Amid growing signs of high-intensity strategic provocations by North Korea ahead of various commemorative days including the Day of the Sun (Kim Il Sung’s birth day on April 15), South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said at a meeting of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and unification on Thursday, “In the event the North conducts a nuclear test or launches an intercontinental ballistic missile, the world will take increasingly tougher disciplinary actions including a new U.N. Security Council resolution, independent sanctions by key countries including South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, and international pressure on North Korea.”

On the rumors of a war crisis on the Korean Peninsula in April and the U.S.’ preemptive strike on North Korea, Minister Yun said, “What we have to worry is the fact that the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles has accelerated and intensified,” and sought to dispel controversy by saying, “South Korea has to agonize over what we will do in an event of an accidental situation, and if we focus on the U.S.’ preemptive strike instead, we will end up placing the cart before the horse.” He went on to stress that Seoul will continue to maintain the South Korea-U.S. joint defense readiness in preparation for the North’s provocations.

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