Seoul: Recent satellite imagery suggest that work to repair North Korea’s main nuclear test site in Punggye-ri may have been suspended due to flood damage, a US monitor said.
The satellite imagery, taken on August 23, showed no significant activities at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, according to Beyond Parallel, a project of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
“No significant activity is observed at Tunnel No. 3 of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility. This is not unexpected as both the US and South Korea assess that North Korea has finished all preparations for conducting a nuclear test at this tunnel.
“Road construction to Tunnel No. 4 remains suspended, and flood damage to the facility’s sole access road is observable, both likely a result of the heavy rains during the past two months,” it said on Monday.
North Korea voluntarily dismantled the Punggye-ri site in 2018 to show its willingness to denuclearise to the international community, reports Yonhap News Agency.
It, however, is believed to have begun repairing the Punggye-ri facility, the site of its all six nuclear tests so far, earlier this year.
Officials in Seoul and Washington have said the North may have completed all preparations for a nuclear test and that the recalcitrant country may conduct its seventh nuclear test “at any time”.
Pyongyang conducted its sixth and last nuclear test in September 2017.
“Satellite imagery from August 24, 2022, shows no significant developments or changes to the area outside the portal for Tunnel No. 3, within which the US and South Korea have assessed that North Korea has completed all preparations for conducting a nuclear test,” Beyond Parallel said on its website.
“These sources have also assessed that the decision to conduct a seventh nuclear test remains solely within the hands of Kim Jong-un, who announced that the country’s nuclear war deterrent is also fully ready to demonstrate its absolute power in late July,” it added.