Posted : 2012-05-01 19:43
Updated : 2012-05-01 19:43

NK nuclear test seen ‘imminent‘

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un casually walks with all buttons of his jacket unfastened as he inspects the construction site of an amusement park in Pyongyang in this image taken from footage of North Korea’s official Korean Central Television on April 30. / Yonhap

By Kang Hyun-kyung

North Korea appears to be preparing for a third nuclear test amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula after the reclusive nation’s failed launch of a satellite when it fell into the West Sea on April 13.

On Tuesday, Radio Free Asia reported the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s (CTBTO) monitoring of North Korea is underway as the communist country is reportedly set for a nuclear test soon.

Citing sources, news outlets here also reported the North is likely to conduct the nuclear test in the near future.

It will be the first nuclear test since Kim Jong-un took power after his father died of heart failure in December.

The North conducted underground nuclear tests twice in 2006 and 2009. It claims the tests were successful.

New satellite imagery released by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies shows preparations for the third nuclear test are underway at the Pungye-ri site.

The institute provided The Associated Press with its analysis of several photos on the site on Friday, which it obtained from a private satellite operator, taken between March 8 and April 18.

The AP reported 8,000 cubic meters of rubble has been excavated at the site.

The reports came with the deadline for the U.N. Security Council’s (UNSC) sanctions list for North Korean firms and individuals approaching. By adopting the UNSC statement condemning the North for the rocket launch, it gave 15 days to its North Korea committee to finalize the fresh list to propose new sanctions listings. The deadline was midnight Tuesday.

The deadline might be extended for a few days, Reuters reported citing a source.

The international community has urged Pyongyang to stop provocative acts, following its attempted satellite launch on the back of a long-range rocket despite warnings not to do so.

The North has turned a deaf ear to the calls.

Instead it threatened to take “special action” against South Korea after it claimed President Lee Myung-bak and some groups “insulted” the North Korean regime.

During a news conference held after the summit with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington Monday (Washington time), Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said there is a great possibility that the North will conduct a nuclear test.

Obama warned North Korea of the consequences, saying the act would only deepen its isolation.

“The old pattern of provocation that then gets attention and somehow insists on the world purchasing good behavior from them, that pattern is broken,” the U.S. president said.
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