North Korea nuclear test site maintaining ‘readiness,’ U.S. analyst says

SEOUL, July 12 (UPI) — North Korean activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear site was captured in recent satellite images.

On 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, analyst Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., writes that “high-level” activity at the site in an area where Pyongyang conducted 2013 and 2016 nuclear tests could be seen.

The commercial imagery was taken on July 7.

“It is clear that North Korea is ensuring that the facility is in a state of readiness that would allow the conduct of future nuclear tests should the order come from Pyongyang,” Bermudez stated.

Supplies and equipment “stacked on the ground south and southeast of the [North] portal” could be seen – the area where previous nuclear tests were conducted.

Bermudez also writes that mine ore carts were present at the site, which suggests workers are digging a tunnel for future purposes, though the “resolution of the image is insufficient to provide further insight into the nature of this activity.”

People and small vehicles are also present on a nearby road, but they could be engaged in maintenance duties.

Seoul is concerned about future North Korea provocations.

A South Korean unification ministry official said Tuesday that “North Korea only needs the orders of Kim Jong Un” to conduct a nuclear test.

Seoul’s foreign ministry stated the United States and South Korea are cooperating closely and maintaining “preparedness” as they monitor North Korea, local news service News 1 reported.

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