North Korea steps up tunnelling at nuclear test site

2018-01-12 11:12
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 12, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the State Academy of Sciences at an undisclosed location. (STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 12, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the State Academy of Sciences at an undisclosed location. (STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)

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

Seoul - North Korea has stepped up tunnelling at its main nuclear test site, a US think tank said, even as tensions cool on the peninsula following the resumption of long-stalled inter-Korean dialogue.

Satellite images showed increased activity at the Punggye-ri site, with mining carts and personnel frequently visible, and excavation waste piles growing, the respected 38North website said on Thursday.

"These activities underscore North Korea's continued efforts to maintain the Punggye-ri site's potential for future nuclear testing," it said.

The last five of Pyongyang's six nuclear tests have been carried out under Mount Mantap at Punggye-ri in the country's north-west, all of them at the North Tunnel.

After a series of small earthquakes in the area, 38North said last October that the site may be suffering from the geological condition "Tired Mountain Syndrome".

The syndrome refers to the effect of below-ground nuclear blasts on the surrounding rock, which is extensively fractured and becomes increasingly permeable.

The latest pictures indicated the North Tunnel was "dormant" with water draining from its entrance, but that "tunnel excavation has been stepped up at the West Portal".

Elsewhere at the site there was unusual activity with some 100-120 personnel lined up in formation in the courtyard, their purpose unknown.

The images were taken in December, shortly before North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un gave a New Year speech warning US President Donald Trump of a "nuclear button" on his desk, while also offering to hold talks with Seoul.

The olive branch led to the first official dialogue between the two Koreas in more than two years, and an agreement for Pyongyang to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in the South.

The apparent rapprochement came after months of confrontation, during which Pyongyang carried out multiple missile tests and by far its biggest nuclear detonation to date.

But North Korea made no promises on its weapons programme at the talks, and lashed out when asked about denuclearisation by South Korean journalists, saying it was not up for discussion.

"The target of all our nuclear and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs and all other sophisticated weapons is the US," the North's chief delegate Ri Son-Gwon said.

Since Kim inherited power in 2011, North Korea has made rapid progress towards its goal of developing a missile that can deliver an atomic warhead to the United States, which significantly strengthens its negotiating position.

Read more on:    north korea  |  north korea nuclear programme

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.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
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.