Activity suggests North Korea preparing for a missile test, report says
North Korea may be preparing to carry out additional nuclear and missile tests, according to a report based on information from South Korea’s spy agency.
The report was co-written by Rep. Kim Byung-kee and other members of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee after a closed-door briefing by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Thursday.
It said another missile test was possible given there had been “active movement of vehicles around a missile research institute in Pyongyang,” the North Korean capital.
The report added that the NIS “predicts that North Korea will continue to carry out additional nuclear tests and push for the development of miniaturized, diversified nuclear warheads.”
The tests are conducted deep underground in a series of tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, in North Hamgyong Province.
The report said Tunnel 3 at the site “is ready to carry out a nuclear test at any time.”
It added that excavation work had “recently resumed” on Tunnel 4 though “it would take a considerable amount of time to prepare” it for any future nuclear test.
North Korea last claimed to have successfully conducted a test of a hydrogen bomb in early September — the country’s sixth nuclear test. That explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.
On Thursday, the regime dismissed regional press reports that one tunnel at the underground nuclear test site collapsed after Pyongyang’s sixth missile test in September, killing hundreds of North Korean workers.
A report from state news agency KCNA accused Japan of circulating “fake news” after its TV Asahi carried a report, citing an unnamed North Korean official claiming up to 200 people were killed in a tunnel collapse.
In addition to a potential future nuclear test, North Korea is working on an advanced version of its existing KN-20 intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially reach the United States, less than six months after it launched its first ICBM, a US official told CNN.
Additional improvements are underway to North Korea’s nuclear fuel, missile launchers, guidance and targeting systems as well, officials say. All of this comes as President Donald Trump is about to travel to Asia, where North Korea’s weapons will be a major topic of discussion.
In the first 10 months of this year, North Korea launched 22 missiles and tested a hydrogen bomb, while threatening to fire missiles over the US territory of Guam and conduct an atmospheric nuclear test.
Last month, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Washington “does not accept a nuclear North Korea” and said “any use of nuclear weapons by the North will be met with a massive military response, effective and overwhelming.”