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U.S. Monitoring Signs of Impending North Korean Nuclear Test

U.S. Monitoring Signs of Impending North Korean Nuclear Test

Posted May. 06, 2005 23:27,   


The New York Times reported on May 6 that the construction of a reviewing stand, presumably for dignitaries near Gilju, North Hamgyong Province, was observed, suggesting preparations for a nuclear test.

It also reported that concrete has been observed being carried to an underground tunnel, presumably to shut it down after a nuclear test. It reported that U.S. officials said, “Since October last year, American officials have periodically seen activity suggesting preparations for a nuclear test. But in recent weeks, that activity appears to have accelerated.” They added, “That tunnel resembles the one used in Pakistan for nuclear tests in 1998.”

The newspaper added that the White House is looking at the fact that the reviewing stand has been constructed a few miles away from the alleged nuclear testing site, which was the same site where the Daepodong missile was fired in 1998. It analyzed, “[Various signs] show rapid, extensive preparations for a nuclear weapons test.”

It reported that American officials have been sufficiently alarmed that they have extensively briefed their Japanese and South Korean allies and warned them to be prepared for the political implications of a test. However, some U.S. government officials reportedly doubt whether this is the real deal and that the North might merely be using irrationality as a bargaining tool.

Meanwhile, on May 5, President Bush spoke at length about North Korea with President Hu Jintao of China on the phone, and showed concern over the North Korean nuclear issue, according to White House spokesperson Scott McClellan.

McClellan said, “President Bush and President Hu discussed the importance of the six-way talks, and decided to continue to cooperate with each other to make the Korean peninsula nuclear-free.” It is not yet known whether the North’s nuclear testing issue was discussed in the conversation between the two leaders.

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com