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Imagery captures signs of the 6th nuclear test by North Korea

Imagery captures signs of the 6th nuclear test by North Korea

Posted March. 11, 2017 07:03,   

Updated March. 11, 2017 07:08

“The sum of activities in the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site supports an assessment that North Korea continues to prepare the tunnels at the North Portal for a future nuclear test. It also suggests that Punggye-ri is capable of handling a sixth nuclear test on short notice once a nuclear device and the associated monitoring equipment are emplaced,” said 38 North, a website on North Korea run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, on Thursday (local time). “New commercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from March 7 indicates activity at the North Portal, Main Administrative Area and Command Center,” the website said.

According to the website, an object that appears to be a large shipping container emerged at the North Portal. Equipment and supplies at the location on Feb 18 and 21 are no longer seen. “The nature and purpose of these supplies or equipment is unclear, but they are likely associated with the changing pattern of activity at the North Portal,” it said. “A pattern of tracks left by compacted snow indicates movement from the equipment and supplies storage area to the support buildings and tunnel.” No activity of significance was visible in the west of the test site and at the South Portal.

North Korea tested the fifth nuclear test at the North Portal on Sept. 9 last year. “The imagery indicates the changing pattern of equipment and supplies at the North Portal since October 2016 continues,” 38 North said.

“It is difficult to calculate or predict when North Korea might achieve that capability, a reliable nuclear-armed ICBM, but certainly with the pace of testing they’ve been carrying out something in the next five to 10 years seems like a reasonable guess,” Gary Samore, the former White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, told the Senate Committee on Arms Services on Wednesday.

The Japanese Asahi Newspaper said that Navy Seals are participating in the U.S.-Korea joint military exercises that began on March 1, citing people who know well about the Korea-U.S. relationship. The newspaper said Navy Seals are on board USS Carl Vinson to exercise in the waters around Korea. It also said that the Navy Seal has an operation plan including the assassination and kidnapping of North Korean leadership including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The intent of the participation is to put pressure on Kim who continues provocations.

Navy Seals, who movie in a group of 10 or so, penetrates into the back of the enemy’s territory through a plane or a submarine and executes missions such as assassinating key figures and recuing its forces and destroying the facilities of the enemy. It reportedly killed Osama Bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaida, in Pakistan in 2011.

“The Navy Seal’s participation in the exercises is to make Kim Jong Un feel threatened and deter North Korea from having a nuclear test and launching a ballistic missile,” sources familiar with the U.S.-Korea relations said. Pyongyang strongly criticized the U.S.-Korea joint military exercise, saying it includes beheadings.

Wan-Jun Yun zeitung@donga.com · Young-A Soh sya@donga.com