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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jane Monheit Christmas Speciali
X
December 22, 2014 8:15 PM
Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.

All About America

AppleAndroid