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11 Mar, 2022 15:36

Activity at closed North Korean nuclear site – Seoul

Pyongyang is thought to have resumed testing after denuclearization talks stalled with the US
Activity at closed North Korean nuclear site – Seoul

The South Korean military announced on Friday that it had detected activity at North Korean nuclear test site Punggye-ri, which has been inactive since 2018, when some tunnels were demolished.

Pyongyang is thought to have resumed its nuclear testing program after denuclearization talks with the United States stalled back in 2019. It had previously imposed a moratorium on nuclear-weapons testing in 2018 amid progress with then-President Donald Trump’s administration.

“Activity to restore part of the tunnels at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site that were destroyed on May 24, 2018 has been detected,” the South Korean military said, without specifying the nature of the activity witnessed. Seoul confirmed that it was closely cooperating with its US allies to monitor the activity that has been detected.

In 2018, images showed that North Korea used explosives to demolish the entrances to some of the underground tunnels at the nuclear site but activity to restore those sections was recently spotted by the South Korean military.

The US National Security Council revealed on Sunday that it has been paying close attention to the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the nuclear reactor site at Yongbyon. Satellite imagery reported by the US-based Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies showed a new building was being constructed and another facility was being repaired.

The US government has previously said it is open to restarting talks with North Korea without preconditions but Pyongyang has said Washington and other allies must first halt their “hostile policies.”

Earlier this year, Seoul claimed that North Korea had conducted suspected ballistic missile tests, with projectiles fired towards the Sea of Japan in March and February. The US has accused the reclusive nation of being in a “phase of provocation” with its recent actions, while Pyongyang has called on America to roll back sanctions that isolate the Asian country.