Activity at North Korean rocket site fuels concerns
ANALYSIS published yesterday of recent satellite images fuelled concerns that North Korea may be on the brink of another nuclear test or long-range rocket launch.
Speculation that Pyongyang is preparing such a show of force has been linked to today’s anniversary of the founding of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party.
Past nuclear tests and missile launches have often coincided with key political dates. Its fifth nuclear test last month was conducted on the anniversary of North Korea’s founding as a state.
The latest satellite imagery analysis posted by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University noted increased activity at the North’s Sohae satellite launch station.
The pictures taken on October 1 showed crates on the launch pad next to the gantry tower, vehicles near the fuel and oxidiser buildings, and work continuing on the facility’s vertical engine test stand.
“However, since both the gantry tower and the assembly structures on the launch pad are covered, it is unclear whether this activity is related to launch preparations or other operations,” the analysts noted.
Yesterday marked 10 years to the day that North Korea carried out its first nuclear test on October 9, 2006 – an underground detonation with such a low yield that it was widely seen as a failure.
But the North’s weapons program has progressed in leaps and bounds since then and has accelerated under current leader Kim Jong-un.
Since taking power following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011, Mr Kim has overseen three nuclear tests – two of them in this year alone. –
“We put our citizens’ safety first. Besides, we want to put an end to the damage that is being carried out against infrastructure projects, health centres, administration and justice buildings,” he said on state media.
Ethiopia is facing its biggest antigovernment unrest in a decade, from the majority Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups which feel marginalised by a minority-led government. –