Satellite imagery shows “significant tunneling” at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, a report revealed Thursday.
In his New Year’s address, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said the North is “open to dialogue” with the South, and the two sides met face-to-face for the first time in two years Tuesday. While the two Koreas noted the need for peace on the peninsula, the North expressed frustration when the South tried to address its illegal nuclear program.
North Korea supposedly extended an olive branch in the speech to its southern neighbor. The young North Korean despot also ordered the mass production and rapid deployment of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles to bolster the state nuclear force.
The North Korean leader claimed that he has a button on his desk to order a nuclear strike against the U.S., but for Kim to field a reliable nuclear deterrent against the U.S. and its allies, additional weapons testing will be undoubtedly be required.
Intensive tunneling, as well as the presence of equipment and hundreds of personnel in satellite images from late December, “underscore North Korea’s continued efforts to maintain the Punggye-ri site’s potential for future nuclear testing,” Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., and Jack Liu, researchers with 38 North, argue in a new analytical report.
These expert observers note that while the North Portal, where North Korea tested a suspected staged thermonuclear weapon — a hydrogen bomb — in early September last year, remains dormant, there is plenty of activity at the West Portal.
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