North Korea 'prepares for nuclear test'
North Korea is digging a new underground tunnel in what appears to be preparation for a third nuclear test, according to South Korea.
The excavation at North Korea's
northeast Punggye-ri site, where nuclear tests were conducted in 2006 and 2009, is in its final stages, according to a report by intelligence officials that was shared Monday with The Associated Press.
Its release comes as North Korea prepares to launch a long-range rocket that Washington and others say is a cover for testing missile technology that could be used to fire on the United States.
Observers fear a repeat of 2009, when international criticism of the North's last long-range rocket launch prompted Pyongyang to walk away from nuclear disarmament negotiations and, weeks later, conduct its second nuclear test. A year later, 50 South Korean were killed in attacks blamed on the North.
"North Korea is covertly preparing for a third nuclear test, which would be another grave provocation," said the report, which cited U.S. commercial satellite photos taken April 1. "North Korea is digging up a new underground tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, in addition to its existing two underground tunnels, and it has been confirmed that the excavation works are in the final stages."
Dirt believed to have been brought from other areas is piled at the tunnel entrance, the report said, something experts say is needed to fill up tunnels before a nuclear test. The dirt indicates a "high possibility" North Korea will stage a nuclear test, the report said, as plugging tunnels was the final step taken during its two previous underground nuclear tests.
North Korea announced plans last month to launch an observation satellite using a three-stage rocket during mid-April celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung.
The US, Japan, Britain and other nations have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, warning that firing the long-range rocket would violate UN resolutions and North Korea's promise to refrain from engaging in nuclear and missile activity.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
- 1 NHS boss apologises for tweeting Hitler video mocking Government health database scheme
- 2 Sir Patrick Stewart patches into David Cameron and Barack Obama's Ukraine talks with packet of wet wipes
- 3 Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
£1200 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client is one of Europes leading mobi...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Founded in 2008 by two Chinese tech entre...
£12000 - £18000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a high-end niche t...
£22000 - £25000 per annum, Benefits: Subsidised gym membership, 25 days holiday...