World Bulletin / News Desk
The North appears to be getting ready for a follow-up to January’s fourth test, based on satellite imagery cited by respected American website 38 North.
Observations suggest that North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site was a hive of activity as recently as July 7, with a particular focus on the same area that witnessed the country’s last two tests.
The website’s analysis stated “it is clear that North Korea is ensuring that the facility is in a state of readiness that would allow the conduct of future nuclear tests should the order come from Pyongyang.”
Such a move would result in even harsher punitive measures than the latest United Nations sanctions imposed on the North in March.
But it would not be a surprise either considering Pyongyang’s repeated provocations this year and insistence on pursuing both nuclear and economic development.
North Korea was upset by several developments last week, including the United States’ decision to sanction leader Kim Jong-un and the announcement by Seoul and Washington that they will deploy a powerful missile defense system, THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), on the peninsula.
South Korea’s unification ministry concurred that its neighbor could carry out a fifth test at any time.
“The government is gearing up for the North's possible nuclear test by [closely monitoring the situation] with military assets of South Korea and the U.S.,” a ministry official was quoted as saying by local news agency Yonhap.