Satellite imagery shows new activity at Tunnel No. 4 of Punggye-ri nuclear test site: Report
Updated: 2022-06-16 17:13:18 KST
North Korea may be preparing for more nuclear tests.
A U.S. think tank reported on Wednesday that the latest satellite imagery shows new construction activity near Tunnel Number Four at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
Using images collected this week, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said a new caisson wall appears to be under construction and construction materials can be seen near the entrance.
At a press briefing on Thursday, Seoul's Defense Ministry said South Korea and the U.S. are closely monitoring the facility and any activity there, maintaining a firm readiness posture.
Reportedly, the ministry sees the new activity as refurbishment work of damaged roads, following heavy rain last year.rather than North's preparations for additional nuclear tests.
Experts also say that Pyeongyang will likely use Tunnel Number Three to carry out nuclear tests, giving less meaning to the latest activities at Tunnel Number Four.
"It's very likely that Tunnel Number Three will be used for a nuclear test. And since a seventh nuclear test is possible at Tunnel Number Three, there's not much reason to restore Tunnel Number Four. So, activities at Tunnel Number Four could be a deception or possibly for other use."
"So far, it's been projected that the seventh nuclear test will be conducted at Tunnel Number Three. But, apparently, no explosive devices have been supplied to the tunnel yet."
Repair work at the South Portal, Tunnel Number Three, which began about four months ago, is apparently now complete.
The timing of a seventh nuclear test now lies in the hands of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Seoul and Washington have repeatedly warned the regime that it will be met with a "united, firm response" should it proceed with such a test.
For now, it's hard to tell the true purpose of North Korea's new activitiesbut it also seems impossible to rule out the possibility of an imminent nuclear test.
Min Suk-hyen, Arirang News.