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North Korea Expands Work on Nuclear Test Site to Second Tunnel, Report Says

Preparation work on Tunnel No. 3 of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility was apparently complete and ready for a possible nuclear test, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a report, citing commercial satellite imagery.

North Korea conducted six underground nuclear tests at the site between 2006 and 2017.

The research group said that for the first time, analysts had detected new construction activity in the facility’s Tunnel No. 4, “strongly suggesting an effort to re-enable it for potential future testing.”

Outside Tunnel No. 3, the images showed a retaining wall and some minor gardens with small trees or shrubs, likely in anticipation of a visit by top officials, he said.

The two tunnels had never before been used for nuclear testing and their entrances were demolished in 2018, when North Korea declared a self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Leader Kim Jong Un has said he is no longer bound by that moratorium due to a lack of reciprocal action by the United States during denuclearization talks, and North Korea resumed intercontinental ballistic missile tests this year.

South Korean officials said this week that North Korea was prepared to carry out a nuclear test “at any time” and that Kim would decide when.

The spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, when asked about the report, said it was closely following developments in North Korea’s nuclear activity together with US intelligence authorities, but declined to do so. more comments.

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said on Monday after talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington that any North Korean provocation, including a nuclear test, would be met with a response. united and firm.

He urged China, for years North Korea’s only major ally, to use its influence.

Park also promised to work to normalize an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan “as soon as possible” to boost its responses to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

The agreement, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), had been the backbone of the trilateral exchange of security information between South Korea, the US and Japan.

But South Korea had considered canceling the pact with Japan in late 2019, during a period of strained ties, before making a last-minute decision to renew it under pressure from the United States.

South Korean officials have said that since then, intelligence sharing with Japan has not been as smooth as it used to be.

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