Report: North Korea planning third nuclear bomb test

Sunday, April 8, 2012

North Korea is planning to test a third nuclear bomb according to a report in Yonhap, a South Korean news agency. The news agency quoted an anonymous South Korean intelligence official as their source for the report.

"North Korea is making clandestine preparations for a third nuclear test at Punggye-ri in North Hamgyong Province, where it conducted two nuclear tests in the past," said the unnamed official to Yonhap. According to the official, recent satellite imagery allegedly shows workers moving dirt and sand to the front of a tunnel at the site which would be used to plug the entrance once the test is ready to commence. "We have confirmed the [mining] work is coming to its final stage," added the official.

The news comes as North Korea prepares to test fire a Unha-3 long range rocket which some reports suggest could take place sometime between April 12 and 16. Yonhap reports the rocket is thought to have been moved to the launch pad on Friday. North Korea claims they are attempting to send a Kwangmyongsong-3 weather satellite into space. Both South Korea and the United States say they are testing a ballistic missile, an action banned by United Nations resolution. "It is a carrier rocket but not a ballistic missile. ... The rocket is equipped with a self-destruction system and thus will not affect other regional countries," said Jang Myung Jin, in charge of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station where the missile test is expected to take place.

North Korea previously tested two nuclear bombs at the same site. The first nuclear bomb test was conducted in 2006 and the second in 2009. Both tests were conducted within a month to three months after the military test fired long range missiles. North Korea agreed in February to stop nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range rocket launches in exchange for more food aid.