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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs