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N. Korea Planning Another Nuke Test?

Posted January. 06, 2007 06:47,   


ABC is reporting confirmation that North Korea is ready to carry out another nuclear test. The American broadcaster said the report is based on intelligence senior officials of the Defense Department recently acquired.

Reuters, however, reported on the same day that Washington had no evidence Pyongyang is about to have a second nuclear test. Reuters quoted an official of a U.S. intelligence agency as saying, “There is no reason to believe that a test is imminent.”

South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Song Min-soon is currently visiting the U.S. and he denied the possibility of North Korea’s preparation for another nuclear test while talking to reporters in Washington. When commenting on the ABC’s report, he said, “South Korea and the U.S. have cooperated through intelligence channels to closely watch any signs that indicate Pyongyang’s attempt to conduct a nuclear test, but I have not been told that there is such a sign.”

This means it is possible for the North to make preparations for a second test but there is no confirming evidence. Satellite pictures showed no nuclear explosive device inside a tunnel and no cables linked to the tunnel to collect results of underground nuclear tests.

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Aso also said in a press conference, “Similar allegations of a possible second test have been made since last year, but I haven’t been told that things have gotten worse. I don’t see any imminent test.”

However, this doesn’t mean the communist country will not conduct a second nuclear test. Instead, it is confirmed that Pyongyang has continued activities that appeared to be preparations for a second test since the first test in last October.

In particular, Seoul and Washington had doubts as to whether Pyongyang in fact carried out a nuclear test back in last October, too. Chances are high that the North is pushing ahead with another nuclear test whenever it wants.

There are several vertical shafts and horizontal tunnels near Punggye-ri in North Korea’s remote northeast, a North Korean nuclear test site. U.S. spy satellites show there is a large tent in front of a tunnel near the tunnel where the first nuclear test was done last year. These two tunnels are not sitting far from each other. Some people who appeared to be construction workers are busy coming and going between the tunnel and the large tent. Busy vehicle traffic is also seen. Cables used to link the underground test site and observation device are piled up, though the cables are not linked to inside the tunnel.

The U.S. spy satellites closely monitor this tunnel and areas surrounding it every day. The results are given to the South Korean government.

Experts on North Korea analyze that increased activities around Punggye-ri seem to be a move to put psychological pressure on the U.S. In other words, Pyongyang is saying it can go ahead with a second nuclear test whenever it wants unless Washington accepts its demands such as lifting financial sanctions against it.

Ryu Gil-jae, professor of the University of North Korean Studies in Kyungnam University, said, “North Korea will not carry out another nuclear test amid negotiations between the U.S. and itself over financial sanctions and freeze on its nuclear program. But, there is a possibility that Pyongyang goes for another nuclear test if the financial sanctions are not lifted and negotiations fail to reach an agreement.”