Agencies (Qasioun) - North Korea appears to be preparing to conduct a nuclear test in a show of defiance towards Donald Trump, who has not ruled out military action to pressure the regime into abandoning its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
The US-based monitoring group 38 North said on Thursday that the satellite images from the North’s Punggye-ri site showed it was “primed and ready” for what would be the country’s sixth nuclear test since 2006.
“Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the main administrative area, and a few personnel around the site’s Command Center,” 38 North said on its website.
“In the courtyards of the main administrative area are approximately 11 probable tarp-covered pallets of equipment or supplies, a formation of personnel, and several individuals walking about,” the site added.
South Korean officials, however, played down speculation that a nuclear test was imminent. “There has been no unusual activity so far,” Roh Jae-chun, a spokesman for the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency.
The possibility that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, will again defy international opinion has strengthened since Pyongyang conducted a series of missile tests earlier this year, as it attempts to perfect a nuclear weapon capable of striking the US mainland.
On Thursday, foreign journalists in North Korea said they had been told to prepare for a “big and important event”. About 200 reporters, including those from Japan and the US, are in Pyongyang as the country prepares to mark the 105th birth anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, on Saturday.
Source: The Guardian