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N. Korea resumes construction activity at nuclear test site: report

All News 02:32 April 01, 2022

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has recently resumed construction activity at an underground nuclear test site north of Pyongyang, which suggests a possible nuclear test down the road, a news report said Thursday, citing unidentified U.S. officials.

"North Korea has recently resumed digging tunnels and construction activities at its underground nuclear test site, according to five US officials," CNN reported.

The report comes after government sources in Seoul said the North may be working to create a shortcut to one of the underground tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site that it purportedly dismantled in 2018 in an internationally observed event to show its willingness to denuclearize.

This pool photo, taken May 24, 2018, shows debris piled up on the ground after Tunnel No. 2 of North Korea's only known nuclear test site in Punggye-ri is blown up. The test site was dismantled in a series of explosions over several hours on the day with press members from South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Britain covering the process. (Yonhap)

One of the sources has said the North had abruptly stopped its initial construction work to restore the entrance to an underground tunnel at Punggye-ri, and is now digging up the side of the tunnel apparently to create a shortcut to the tunnel.

The source added creating such a shortcut may allow the completion of restoration work "in a month."

Punggye-ri has been the site of all six of North Korea's known nuclear tests.

The work to restore the underground tunnels was detected earlier this year after Pyongyang said in January that it may consider restarting "all temporarily suspended activities," apparently referring to its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing that had been in place since late 2017.

The North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile last Thursday (Seoul time), ending its self-imposed restrictions on long-range missile testing.

In its annual Threat Assessment report, released earlier this month, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the North may be expected to resume nuclear and ICBM testing this year.

A Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is moved from storage for a test at Pyongyang International Airport on March 24, 2022, in this photo captured from the North's Central TV on March 25. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

bdk@yna.co.kr
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