N Korea keeping nuclear test site ready - US think tank

2016-07-12 13:19
The underwater test-fire of a strategic submarine ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea on April 23. (KCNA via KNS, AFP)

The underwater test-fire of a strategic submarine ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in North Korea on April 23. (KCNA via KNS, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - Satellite imagery indicates a high level of activity at North Korea's nuclear test site as the North seeks to keep the facility ready for a try-out at all times, a US think tank said on Monday.

The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said satellite imagery from July 7 of the North's Punggye-ri shows what appears to be supplies and/or equipment stacked next to the site's North Portal where the North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.

A small vehicle is also present at the nearby support building and several mine ore carts may also be present south-east of the portal, suggesting the tunnel is being actively worked.

"Based on imagery alone, it is not possible to determine whether this activity is for maintenance, excavation or preparation for a fifth nuclear test", it said on its website 38 North.

"Nevertheless, it is clear that North Korea is ensuring that the facility is in a state of readiness that would allow the conduct of future nuclear tests should the order come from Pyongyang", it added.

Tensions are high since Pyongyang carried out its fourth nuclear test in January, followed by a series of missile launches.

Pyongyang threatened on Monday to take "physical action" after Washington and Seoul announced they would deploy a sophisticated US anti-missile defence system.

The North's military, which it said was possessed of "sufficient latest offensive strike means", said in response that it would take "more merciless and powerful successive corresponding measures" against the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) in the South.

Pyongyang test-fired what appeared to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile on Saturday, a day after the THAAD announcement.

Also on Monday, the North said it would cut off all diplomatic channels with the US and handle issues related to it under its "wartime law" in protest at sanctions on leader Kim Jong-Un.

The issue of two Americans currently in jail in the North is "no exception", the North said, indicating the North would give up using the two as a negotiating card and treat them harshly.

State Department spokesperson John Kirby on Monday urged Pyongyang to cease an "improper and unjust" detention of them.

"We call on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that only further raise tensions in the region", Kirby said at a regular press briefing.

Otto Warmbier, a 21-year-old college student, was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in March for stealing a propaganda banner from a hotel. Korean-American missionary Kim Dong-Chul is also serving a jail term on charges of subversion and espionage.

The latest sanctions, which described Kim directly responsible for a long list of serious human rights abuses, are the first that name the leader of the isolated, nuclear-armed state.

Read more on:    us  |  north korea

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.