Seoul, Jun 16 (EFE).- Satellite photos analyzed by a specialist website have revealed activity in underground tunnels at the North Korean Punggye-ri facility, which experts say has been readied for a new nuclear test.
Images taken on June 14 show “new construction activity” in tunnel 4 (also known as the West Portal), “strongly suggesting an effort to re-enable it for potential future testing,” said the analysis published on the website Beyond Parallel.
“A new caisson wall under construction and construction materials are observed near the entrance to the portal, which was previously collapsed during disabling in 2018,” said the text, referring to the collapse of the entrances of these tunnels that the regime carried out to improve the diplomatic environment amid summits held with Washington.
“Former support and storage buildings continue to be renovated, and several new buildings are under construction – an indicator of the further re-enabling of the facility at Tunnel No. 4,” it added.
These findings seem to indicate that North Korean authorities are readying tunnel 4 for future tests, after one that they have allegedly been preparing in nearby tunnel 3 (South Portal), which Seoul and Washington say may be imminent, is carried out.
Beyond Parallel analysts once again state that “refurbishment work and preparations at Tunnel No. 3, which began approximately four months ago, are apparently now complete and ready for an oft-speculated seventh nuclear test,” and again insist that the timing of that test “rests solely within the hands of [leader] Kim Jong-un.”
On Tuesday, a South Korean unification ministry (in charge of relations with the North) official said that “North Korea is currently prepared to conduct a nuclear test at any time in case Chairman Kim Jong-un decides to do so.”
North Korea, which has isolated itself since 2020 due to the pandemic, has ignored offers to resume denuclearization dialogue and last year approved a weapons modernization plan that is behind the record 19 missile launches it has carried out this year, and is believed to be prepared for its seventh nuclear test, the first in five years. EFE