Activity at closed North Korean nuclear site – Seoul — Analysis

According to some reports, Pyongyang has resumed testing following the US’s suspension of denuclearization talks

On Friday, the South Korean military reported that they had discovered activity at Punggye-ri nuclear testing site. The site has not been active since 2018. Some tunnels have been demolished.

It is believed that Pyongyang has resumed its nuclear-testing program following denuclearization talks between the United States and Pyongyang which stalled 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 said it is cooperating closely with the US to detect any activity.

Photos from 2018 revealed that North Korea had used explosives in order to blow up some tunnel entrances. The South Korean military discovered however, activity to rebuild those tunnels.

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On Sunday, the US National Security Council announced that they have been closely monitoring the Punggyeri nuclear testing site and the Yongbyon nuclear reactor site. The US-based Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies reported that satellite imagery showed that a new building was under construction and another was in the process of 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.”

Seoul claimed earlier in the year that North Korea was conducting suspected missile test, and projectiles had been fired at the Sea of Japan between 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.

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