US: North Korea increased tunneling at nuclear test site
North Korea has stepped up tunneling at its main nuclear test site, a US think tank said, even as tensions cool on the peninsula following the resumption of long-stalled inter-Korean dialogue. Satellite images showed increased activity at the Punggye-ri site, with mining carts and personnel frequently visible, and excavation waste piles growing, the respected 38North website said Thursday. “These activities underscore North Korea’s continued efforts to maintain the Punggye-ri site’s potential for future nuclear testing,” it said. The last five of Pyongyang’s six nuclear tests have been carried out under Mount Mantap at Punggye-ri in the country’s north-west, all of them at the North Tunnel. After a series of small earthquakes in the area, 38North said in last October that the site may be suffering from the geological condition “Tired Mountain Syndrome”.
The syndrome refers to the effect of below-ground nuclear blasts on the surrounding rock, which is extensively fractured and becomes increasingly permeable.
The latest pictures indicated the North Tunnel was “dormant” with water draining from its entrance, but that “tunnel excavation has been stepped up at the West Portal”.
Elsewhere at the site there was unusual activity with some 100-120 personnel lined up in formation in the courtyard, their purpose unknown.
The images were taken in December, shortly before North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un gave a New Year speech warning US President Donald Trump of a “nuclear button” on his desk, while also offering to hold talks with Seoul.
The olive branch led to the first official dialogue between the two Koreas in more than two years, and an agreement for Pyongyang to send a delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.
The apparent rapprochement came after months of confrontation, during which Pyongyang carried out multiple missile tests and by far its biggest nuclear detonation to date.
But North Korea made no promises on its weapons programme at the talks, and lashed out when asked about denuclearisation by South Korean journalists, saying it was not up for discussion.
“The target of all our nuclear and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs and all other sophisticated weapons is the US,” the North’s chief delegate Ri Son-Gwon said.
Since Kim inherited power in 2011, North Korea has made rapid progress towards its goal of developing a missile that can deliver an atomic warhead to the United States, which significantly strengthens its negotiating position. (AFP)
- Puerto Rico allowing transgender people to fix birth certificates 18 Jul 2018 | AFP
- Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values 18 Jul 2018 | AP
- ISIS suicide bomber kills 20 in Afghan: Officials 18 Jul 2018 | AP
- Asking voters whom they’ve voted for can land a person in jail for 3 yrs in Pakistan 18 Jul 2018 | PTI
- Europe, Japan sign massive free trade deal 18 Jul 2018 | AFP
- Trump under fire over poll meddling comments 18 Jul 2018 | PTI
- Female Gurkhas in British Army from 2020 17 Jul 2018 | PTI
- Globe trotting 17 Jul 2018 | Agencies
- Nawaz Sharif challenges 10-yr jail term 17 Jul 2018 | PTI
- Senior ANP leader survives assassination attempt in Pak 17 Jul 2018 | PTI
Sunday EditionView All
15 Jul 2018 | PTI | New Delhi
Amid row over alleged use of derogatory language in a web series while referring to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said the BJP and the RSS believe that freedom of expression must be policed, while he regards it as a fundamental democratic right. “My father lived and died in the service of India...
STATE EDITIONSView All
18 Jul 2018 | Staff Reporter | RAIPUR
A two-month-old infant died due to suffocation after the door of the ‘108 Ambulance Service’ that was carrying him to a hospital malfunctioned and failed to open on time at Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Hospital here on Tuesday. The Ambulance operators tried to open the door for a couple of hours but failed to open it on time...