SEOUL, Aug. 12 (UPI) — Recent activity was detected at North Korea‘s Punggye-ri nuclear site where Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.
Analysis of satellite imagery from July and August on 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korean issues, indicates ongoing activity at the site’s North Portal, where the last test was conducted.
There have been some observable changes since July, including the absence of supplies and equipment south and southeast of the North Portal, and the withdrawal of a small vehicle at the support building, analysts Jack Liu and Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. wrote.
A canopy that is “not camouflaged” but “does prevent accurate observation of the area it covers” has been set up near the support building, the analysts say.
The objective of the latest activity is unconfirmed, and the identity of an item found in the “tailings pile to the east of the North Portal is unclear,” they added.
There is a possibility, however, the object may be a small vehicle or mine ore carts, according to the analysis.
A South Korean military official who spoke to local news service Money Today said that it’s his understanding the “North is prepared to conduct a nuclear test, whenever it makes up its mind.”
In light of Pyongyang’s recent provocations, including the launch of a ballistic missile that landed in Japanese territorial waters last week, concerns are rising in Seoul that North Korea could soon conduct its next nuclear test, and possibly to coincide with the joint military exercises held in late August.