A report from South Korea’s Yonhap agency says that North Korea has pulled out both manpower and equipment from their underground Punggye-ri nuclear test site. It is not clear however if this is a sign of an imminent nuclear test.
An unnamed source has been closely monitoring the site and reported that no activity has been sighted since Friday. This could point to either preparation for a nuclear test in the next few days or just part of the Lunar New Year holiday which North Korea celebrates for three days starting last Sunday. Seoul has predicted that the threatened nuclear test may happen between the end of the holiday and the late Kim Jong-il’s birthday on February 16.
Since January, the North’s top body, the National Defence Commission has warned of a third atomic test within a year which will be in violation of a UN resolution after their previous nuclear and missile tests in 2006 and 2009. North Korea has also accused the United States and South Korea of “fussing over speculation”, saying the two countries have no clue about their important state measures. The UN has tightened sanctions over the communist state after a successful long-range rocket launch last December. North Korea has insisted that the launch was a scientific mission that put a satellite into orbit. But many countries saw it as a “disguised ballistic missile test”, leading to more sanctions for the impoverished but nuclear-armed state.
[ via Bangkok Post ]