North Korea resumes activity at nuclear test site, watchdog says
New satellite images suggest that North Korea has resumed working at the secretive state’s mountainous nuclear test site, despite new United Nations sanctions, according to a U.S.-based watchdog.
The group – 38 North – says new satellite imagery from Sept. 8 shows at least one cargo truck or tractor trailer, some mining carts and other equipment at the test site.
“Such activity, coming shortly after the largest underground nuclear test conducted at Punggye-ri to date (via the North Portal), suggests that onsite work could now be changing focus to further prepare those other portals for future underground nuclear testing,” the watchdog noted in a blog post Tuesday.
North Korea said it successfully conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3. The latest test was said to have been a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted on a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile that has “great destructive power,” state media said following the announcement of the test.
North Korea’s announcement came just hours after a large earthquake was detected near the country’s only known nuclear test site in the mountainous region of North Hamgyong province.
According to 38 North, satellite images suggested the nuke test resulted in landslides occurring at the Punggye-ri test site.
“These disturbances are more numerous and widespread than what we have seen from any of the five tests North Korea previously conducted,” the watchdog noted in a blog post earlier this month. “There does not appear to be any evidence of a collapse crater, as might have been suggested from the post-test tremor.”
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The watchdog noted Tuesday that images appeared to show two white vehicles near the north portal of the test “and their presence could be indicative of a post-test inspection effort.”
North Korea condemned Tuesday the latest round of UN sanctions against the country and warned the United States of “forthcoming measures” by the hands of the secretive state.
In an attempt to punish North Korea for its latest nuclear test, the UN Security Council approved new sanctions, targeting the country’s textile industry and limiting its import of crude oil.
“The proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” the council said in a statement.
North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations Han Tae Song lashed out at the UN’s latest “illegal and unlawful” sanctions against his country, calling it a “grave challenge to international peace and justice.”
“The adoption of sanctions resolution against my country is an extreme manifestation of U.S. intention to eliminate at any cost the ideology, social system of DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and its people,” the ambassador said while addressing other state representatives in Geneva. “My delegation condemns, in the strongest terms, and categorically rejects the latest illegal and unlawful UN Security Council resolution.”
North Korea threatened on Thursday to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting the UN resolution and sanctions over its latest nuclear test.
Pyongyang’s Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which handles the North‘s external ties and propaganda, also called for the breakup of the Security Council, which it called “a tool of evil” made up of “money-bribed” countries that move at the order of the United States.
–with a file from the Associated Press
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