International relations have been put under pressure by claims that North Korea is finalising construction work over a third nuclear test site in the northeast region of Punggye-ri. Global news resource The Associated Press has reportedly viewed documents compiled by South Korean intelligence officials that confirm the ‘preparation for a third nuclear test site’.
Despite agreements not to launch any further long-range missiles in February 2012, North Korea attempted to propel a ‘rocket-launched satellite’ in honour of Eternal President of the Republic, Kim ll-Sung’s birthday on Friday 13 April, 2012. The satellite exploded in mid-air shortly after take-off however the launch alone has caused concerns over the intentions of North Korea to test nuclear devices, heightened by indications that a new test site is under construction.
Sources from South Korea have allegedly stated that the build-up of earth at the entrance to a tunnel in Punggye-ri indicates that a test is near as this ‘plugging’ of tunnels is the final stage in preparation for nuclear testing, both in past experiences with North Korea and at other international sites.
The Associated Press quoted the following from alleged documents from intelligence officials: “North Korea is covertly preparing for a third nuclear test, which would be another grave provocation. North Korea is digging up a new underground tunnel at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, in addition to its existing two underground tunnels, and it has been confirmed that the excavation works are in the final stages.”
North Korea tested nuclear weapons at underground locations in 2006 and 2009 in spite of wavering relations and open agreements with international allies to refrain from nuclear activities. The United States is one of many countries that have attempted to alleviate pressures with North Korea over its nuclear activities and after Friday’s rocket launch has ceased food aid to the region.