SEOUL: Analysis of recent satellite images of North Korea’s nuclear test site shows activity at all three of its tunnel complexes, fuelling speculation of another test ahead of a key political anniversary next week.
“We believe that the North is ready to carry out a nuclear test and all it needs is political determination,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified foreign ministry official as saying on Friday.
North Korea has already conducted two nuclear tests this year — in January and September — and experts say it is capable of carrying out a third as soon as the order is given. The yield from September’s test was estimated at 10 kilotons — the largest so far and almost twice as much as the device detonated in January.
In a posting on its closely-watched 38 North website Friday, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said satellite images dated October 1 showed continuing activity across the Punggye-ri test site in the northeast of the country.
“Activity at the North Portal where the September 9 test occurred, may be for a number of purposes including collecting post-test data, sealing the portal or preparing for another test,” the post said.
It also highlighted movement around the West Portal, as well as the South Portal where excavation stopped in 2012.
North Korea has been hit by five sets of United Nations sanctions since it first tested a nuclear device in 2006, but has insisted it will continue.