Satellite shows heightened N Korean nuclear activity – report

A North Korean nuclear test within days “cannot be ruled out” analysts said Saturday, after new satellite imagery showed heightened activity at the test site. The report by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) chimes with other findings and suggests Pyongyang is moving towards an underground detonation.


North Korea and weapons of mass destruction

Pictures taken on Friday show an increase in movement near one entrance to a tunnel.


“The images show in particular activity at the South Portal of the site, a possible site for North Korea’s next nuclear test, and in the main support area,” ISIS said in a release.


Analysis of satellite images taken on Wednesday and released by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University showed increased activity at the Punggye-ri test site.


This was “probably related to preparations for a detonation,” the institute said on its closely followed 38 North website, AFP reports.


ISIS said higher resolution imagery, taken on Friday confirmed that analysis and suggested the preparations were continuing.


“On April 23, several containers were located in front of one of the South Portal’s tunnel entrances,” ISIS said.


“The higher resolution April 25 imagery shows more clearly what appears to be this collection of boxes or containers near this tunnel entrance.”


North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013, despite huge international pressure to halt its program, and its activity is being keenly watched.


US President threatens North Korea with military force to defend allies


President Barack Obama warned on Saturday that the US would not hesitate to use military force against North Korea to defend US allies, according to the Associated Press news agency. Obama said as much in an address to the 28,000 South Korea-based US servicemen.


Obama is paying a visit to Seoul amid North Korea’s threats to carry out its fourth nuclear test. The US President did not rule out that another test by Pyongyang could raise the issue of more sanctions against North Korea.


Obama calls North Korea a ‘pariah state’ that is doomed to isolation


North Korea is a “pariah state” whose heavily militarised border with the South marks “freedom’s frontier”, US President Barack Obama told American troops in Seoul on Saturday. Obama, who was wrapping up a two day visit to South Korea, said Pyongyang’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is “a path that leads only to more isolation”, AFP reports.


His comments come after satellite images revealed the North could be preparing to carry out an atomic test – its fourth – despite stringent sanctions imposed by the international community. They also come hours after Pyongyang state media claimed the North had been holding a young US citizen for two weeks because of his “rash behaviour” while passing through immigration.


Obama made no mention of the man whom Pyongyang identified as 24-year-old “Miller Matthew Todd”, but said the North’s border with its southern neighbour separates two very different places.


“The 38th Parallel now exists as much as a contrast between worlds as it does a border between nations, between a society that’s open and one that is closed,” he said. “It is a border between a democracy that is growing and a pariah state that would rather starve its people than feed their hopes and dreams. Freedom is not an accident. Progress is not an accident. Democracy is not an accident. These are things that have to be fought for… And they’ve got to be tended to constantly and defended without fail. And here, on freedom’s frontier, they are.”


Pictures from satellites have suggested increased movement of vehicles and materials near what are believed to be the entrances to two completed test tunnels at North Korea’s Punggye-ri test site. Also visible were probable command and control vehicles intended to provide secure communications between the test site and other facilities, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on its closely followed 38 North website.


North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009 and 2013.Obama blasted Pyongyang’s atomic programme, which he said would do the country no good.”North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a path that leads only to more isolation,” he said.”It’s not a sign of strength. Anybody can make threats. Anyone can move an army. Anyone can show off a missile.”


The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday that leader Kim Jong-Un had urged his soldiers to be ready for “impending conflict with the United States”.


North Korean media regularly carries colourfully-phrased warnings that the isolated state is on the verge of war.Obama, whose four nation tour of Asia began in Japan, said the US was committed to its friends in the region and pledged the US-South Korean alliance was as “strong as it has ever been”.
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