North Korea 'preparing for two nuclear tests'
North Korea is preparing to carry out two nuclear tests, either simultaneously or in rapid succession, to demonstrate to the world the advances it has made in its weapons programme, according to intelligence reports.
Analysis of recent satellite images has shown new activity on the southern edge of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, while preparations at a second tunnel to the west were apparently completed earlier, a South Korean government source told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
The paper quoted a military official as saying, "There is a chance that the southern tunnel is a decoy, but we are not ruling out that the regime will conduct nuclear tests simultaneously at both tunnels."
There is a widespread belief that North Korea will go ahead with what would be its third nuclear test in the near future, with the regime still angrily denouncing criticism by the United Nations Security Council for the launch in December of what Pyongyang claims was a rocket to put a satellite into orbit.
That protestation has been undermined by North Korea putting on display in Pyongyang a section of fuselage from an identical vehicle and labelling it as a ballistic missile.
The South Korean military and international intelligence agencies have prepared for the North's anticipated nuclear test and hope that data they can retrieve will provide new pointers on just how far Pyongyang has advanced in its efforts to develop a nuclear warhead that is small enough to be attached to a ballistic missile.
North Korea releases rocket-launch video that shows a New York-like city in flames
North Korea has released a video about its space program and rocket launch abilities that shows a city similar to New York being destroyed by a military bombardment overlayed by a burning American flag.
The video, published on Feb. 2 on the country’s official YouTube channel, begins with the face of a dozing North Korean man which is then overlaid with scenes of a rocket launch.
The the soothing background music — which sounds like an off-brand muzak version of Michael Jackson’s “Heal The World,” mixed with “We Are The World” — plays over everything.
Soon we see a computer-generated space shuttle circling the world with scenes from across the globe. When the shuttle flies over North America, the video zooms in on what appears to be New York showing the city in flames being bombarded by an unseen force.
“Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing,” the Korean-language caption says according to a translation from The Guardian. “It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze.”
The video then ends with a return to North Korea and the face of the North Korean man who has comfortably slept though the whole thing. The muzak has continued playing through the entire thing.
The video is a reminder that North Korea is in the midst of powering up its missile program.
South Korea’s UN ambassador said Monday a North Korean nuclear test “seems to be imminent.”
Ambassador Kim Sook said there are “very busy activities” taking place at North Korea’s nuclear test site “and everybody’s watching.”
Kim told a press conference that in the event of a nuclear test, he expects the UN Security Council to respond with “firm and strong measures.”
North Korea announced last month that it would conduct a nuclear test to protest Security Council sanctions toughened after a satellite launch in December that the U.S. and others say was a disguised test of banned missile technology. The council ordered North Korea in the sanctions resolution to refrain from a nuclear test or face “significant action.”
South Korea joined the Security Council in January and holds the rotating presidency this month. Kim said he was speaking as South Korea’s ambassador, not as the council president.
He said that during negotiations on the latest sanctions resolution all 15 council members — including North Korean ally China — were unified.
Yonhap / The Associated PressThe USS San Francisco, a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine, is docked before South Korea and U.S. joint military exercises, at Jinhae naval base, South Korea on Friday.
The drills are being run as North Korea is expected to launch another nuclear test.
“They are very firm and resolute and I would expect very firm and strong measures to be taken in terms of format as well as in substance once they go ahead with such provocation” as a nuclear test, Kim said.
Pyongyang’s two previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, both occurred after it was condemned by the United Nations for rocket launches.
The sanctions, aimed at trying to derail the country’s rogue nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, bar North Korea from testing or using nuclear or ballistic missile technology, and from importing or exporting material for these programs.
The latest sanctions resolution again demanded that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program and cease launches. It slapped sanctions on North Korean companies and government agencies, including its space agency and several individuals.