News / Asia

Is North Korea Preparing for Another Nuclear Test?

FILE - A military truck carrying a missile parades during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 27, 2013.
FILE - A military truck carrying a missile parades during a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 27, 2013.
VOA News
Analysts say recent construction work at a North Korean nuclear site suggests Pyongyang may be preparing to conduct a fourth underground nuclear test.
 
The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University says new satellite images show two new tunnel entrances and other construction work ongoing at the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
 
The report on the institute's blog, 38 North, said there are no signs a nuclear test is imminent. It said the tunnels could either be used for nuclear detonations or for other purposes, such as ventilation.
 
However, it warned that the ongoing construction indicates the North "is preparing to conduct additional detonations in the future as part of its nuclear weapons development program."
 
North Korea conducted underground nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, and February of this year in defiance of United Nations sanctions.
 
Much of the West's knowledge of North Korea's secretive nuclear program is obtained by examining satellite photos and other intelligence, which often provide only an incomplete picture.
 
Cedric Leighton, a security consultant and former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer, told VOA the reason for the new construction at Punggye-ri could be rather mundane; repair efforts due to July floods, for instance.
 
"But it doesn't explain why there's so many new structures and new buildings going up. And that has made a significant difference in the structure of the site and could mean the site has received a new mission or is going to be set up in a way so that new nuclear tests could potentially take place," said Leighton
 
Leighton agrees that no nuclear test seems imminent, but warns that there could be a new test “in several months' time or a year's time."
 
There have been other recent signs that North Korea intends to move forward with its nuclear weapons program. Earlier this month, satellite images suggested it restarted a key nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon site.
 
The moves come as the North says it is willing to resume six-nation talks on its nuclear program - talks the U.S. says can only take place if Pyongyang shows it is willing to keep its earlier promises of denuclearization.
 
Bruce Bennett of the RAND Corporation told VOA that without such a commitment from the North, the U.S. feels there is no basis for negotiations.
 
"Very few people think the North is preparing to denuclearize. So the real question is if we do negotiate with the North, what are we going to negotiate about if they are not prepared to denuclearize?" asked Bennett.
 
The U.S. has repeatedly said it will not recognize North Korea as a legitimate nuclear weapons state, even as the communist country gets closer and closer to achieving that technical status.
 
Bennett cautions against assuming too much about North Korean motivations, but says that as long as they insist on further developing their nuclear program, successful six-party talks become less and less likely.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid