South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency has reported today that Pyongyang has placed “a camouflage net, looking like a roof” above one of the three tunnel entrances at the test site in Punggye-ri of North Hamgyong province—the same venue of the 2006 and 2009 nuclear weapons tests. An intelligence source of the publication said that the purpose for it could be to hide the final preparations for North Korea’s threatened nuclear launch.
Another source of Yonhap said that the cover could be aimed at throwing off outside watchers ahead of another missile launch. “It seems like a disturbing tactic, similar to one that was used when the North prepared for a long-range rocket in December last year,” said the source. Indeed, a similar camouflage net was placed over the launch pad in order to evade spy satellites days before the December 12 supposed rocket launch. The three-stage rocket was assembled under said cover.
Wi Yong Seop, a South Korea defense ministry official, announced during a briefing that North Korea is now ready to detonate at any time should its leader Kim Jong-un give the go signal. Yonhap quoted him to have said that “forces of South Korea and the U.S. are closely monitoring” the preparations. Similarly, the Chosun Ilbo, a daily newspaper in Seoul, reported yesterday that a senior South Korean government official believes the placement of a measuring equipment near a tunnel entrance is an indication of North Korea’s completed preparations.