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N. Korea 'still on standby' for nuke test: 38 North

2017/07/09 07:00

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SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to maintain its readiness to conduct another nuclear test at any time, but no new activity has been spotted at its Punggye-ri site to suggest a test is imminent, U.S. researchers monitoring the secretive nation said Sunday.

Citing the satellite imagery from June 28 and July 5, they said, on the 38 North website, "No significant new activity can be observed."

   They added their previous assessment that "Additional nuclear tests could occur at any time, once the North Korean leadership makes the decision to do so" still holds true.

Simultaneously, they added, there seems to have been an "overall clean-up" of the facility, located in a mountainous region of a northeastern province, giving the impression of an unusually well-maintained site at a high state of readiness to host another underground nuclear test on short notice.

The North has carried out five nuclear tests: in 2006, 2009, 2013 and twice last year

Last week, the North test-launched a missile with intercontinental range, the latest in its series of provocations.

South Korea's Defense Minister said a day later that chances are high of the North conducting a nuclear test as it is trying to miniaturize nuclear bombs.

In June, some media reports said U.S. spy satellites had detected "some modifications" and high levels of activity at the entrances of a tunnel at the Punggye-ri site.

The 38 North report was co-authored by Frank Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. and Jack Liu.

lcd@yna.co.kr

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