Satel­lite images show ac­tiv­ity at N Korea nu­clear test site

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

An in­crease in ac­tiv­ity at North Korea’s nu­clear test site could sig­nal prepa­ra­tions for a new test or a col­lec­tion of data from its last one, a US-based mon­i­tor­ing group said on Fri­day. The 38 North group, run by Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity’s School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said satel­lite images showed ac­tiv­ity at all three tun­nel com­plexes at the Pung­gye-ri nu­clear test site in­volv­ing a large ve­hi­cle and per­son­nel.

“One pos­si­ble rea­son for this ac­tiv­ity is to col­lect data on the Sept. 9 test, al­though other pur­poses can­not be ruled out, such as seal­ing the por­tal or other prepa­ra­tions re­lated to a new test,” the group said. North Korea con­ducted its fifth and big­gest nu­clear test on Sept. 9 and South Korea has said it be­lieves the north is ready to con­duct an­other nu­clear test at any time. There has been spec­u­la­tion that Pyongyang could mark the Oct 10 an­niver­sary of the found­ing of its Work­ers’ Party with a sixth det­o­na­tion.

A study pub­lished on Fri­day by a US-based North Korea re­search project said North Korean mis­sile and nu­clear tests, and other ma­jor “provo­ca­tions”, had clus­tered in­creas­ingly closer to US elec­tions. The study from Wash­ing­ton’s Cen­ter for Strate­gic and In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies said the pat­tern based on look­ing at 30 US elec­tions since 1956 sug­gested a North Korean ac­tion as early as a month be­fore the Nov 8 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. This could mean a test coin­cid­ing with the Oct.10 an­niver­sary. The trend also sug­gested the pos­si­bil­ity of an act dur­ing the De­cem­ber tran­si­tion pe­riod for the next US ad­min­is­tra­tion. North Korea con­ducted its first nu­clear test in 2006 and has since de­fied UN sanc­tions to press ahead with the de­vel­op­ment of the weapons and mis­siles to carry them, which it says it needs for de­fense.

In Jan­uary, it con­ducted its fourth nu­clear test and the fifth was car­ried out on the an­niver­sary of the na­tion’s found­ing. South Korea’s Uni­fi­ca­tion Min­istry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told a brief­ing there were no par­tic­u­lar in­di­ca­tions of a plan for a nu­clear test on Oct. 10.

How­ever, South Korea’s Yon­hap news agency cited an uniden­ti­fied govern­ment of­fi­cial as say­ing that ac­tiv­ity at North Korea’s rocket launch station near the west coast could be prepa­ra­tions for a long-range mis­sile launch. Ja­pan said the pos­si­bil­ity of fur­ther “provoca­tive ac­tion” by North Korea could not be ruled out.

“The govern­ment is tak­ing all pos­si­ble mea­sures in gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion, ex­er­cis­ing vig­i­lance and tak­ing surveil­lance ac­tiv­i­ties to be able to re­spond to any sit­u­a­tions,” Ja­pan’s Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga told a news con­fer­ence. — Reuters

BEI­JING: Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping (cen­ter) guides Por­tuguese Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nio Costa (cen­ter right) be­fore their meet­ing at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple in Bei­jing yes­ter­day. — AFP

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