North Korea expands restoration at nuclear test site to second tunnel: report
- A Washington think tank said satellite images show work at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility are apparently complete and ready for a possible nuclear test
- South Korean officials said this week that North Korea was poised to conduct a nuclear test ‘at any time’ and that the timing would be decided by Kim.
Preparation work at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility’s Tunnel No. 3 was apparently complete and ready for a possible nuclear test, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a report, citing commercial satellite imagery.
North Korea conducted six underground nuclear tests at the site from 2006 to 2017.
The research group said that for the first time, analysts spotted new construction activity at the facility’s Tunnel No. 4, “strongly suggesting an effort to re-enable it for potential future testing”.
Outside Tunnel No. 3, images showed a retaining wall and some minor landscaping with small trees or bushes, likely in anticipation of a visit by senior officials, it said.
South Korean officials said this week that North Korea was poised to conduct a nuclear test “at any time” and that the timing would be decided by Kim.
South Korea’s defence ministry spokesman, when asked about the report, said it was closely monitoring developments on North Korea’s nuclear activity together with US intelligence authorities but declined to make any further comment.
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said on Monday after talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington that any provocation by North Korea, including a nuclear test, would be met with a united, firm response.
He urged China, for years North Korea’s only major ally, to use its influence.
Park also vowed to work to normalise an intelligence sharing pact with Japan “as soon as possible” to boost their responses to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
But South Korea had considered scrapping the pact with Japan in late 2019, during a period of strained ties, before a last-minute decision to renew it in the face of US pressure.
South Korean officials have said that since then, intelligence sharing with Japan had not been as smooth as it was before