'N. Korea's Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site Shows Significant Tunneling Activity'

Elias Hubbard
January 13, 2018

The analysis was based on new images of the test site released commercially.

"Significant" tunneling work has been detected at North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site, according to a Washington-based think tank that monitors the communist state's activities.

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.

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". It has also slightly expanded in size.

The accident is believed to have been caused by Kim Jong-un's last nuclear test which weakened the mountain.

A recent report by TV Asahi claimed hundreds of North Korean personnel died after the tunnels collapsed at the test site.

The U.S. announced Thursday that it has deployed three nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers and 200 air personnel in the territory of Guam, to which North Korea had threatened to launch a missile in August past year.

North Korea has stepped up tunnelling at its main nuclear test site, a U.S. think tank said, even as tensions cool on the peninsula following the resumption of long-stalled inter-Korean dialogue.

Elsewhere on 38 North, contributor Alexander Vorontsov, who heads the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that North Korean diplomats were serious about the possibility of war with the US.

38 North's report comes the same week that North Korea agreed to send athletes and officials to next month's Winter Olympics in the South and to discuss easing military hostilities.

He said North Korea was not bluffing and actively preparing for war.

While military tensions have shown no signs of breaking, with the United States ordering three nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers to the Pacific territory of Guam on Thursday, both sides have proven more amenable to the notion of peace talks in 2018.

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. North Korea continues to challenge the USA on the world stage.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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