North Korea's nuclear test site is reportedly at a "seemingly high state of readiness for future testing." Satellite images reportedly reveal that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has seen continued "low levels" of activities, which experts believe indicates that "nuclear tests could occur with little to no notice" on the orders of Kim Jong-un, the leader of the reclusive nation.
Satellite images from 11 July to 13 July allegedly reveal that while no significant new activities were detected at the site, low level activity such as general maintenance, landscaping and vegetable gardening have been noted. Experts at US-based think tank 38North said that there were some unusual, as yet unidentified objects spotted on the road just outside the nuclear site's tunnel complex, which in the past has been used for four nuclear tests.
"At this time, it is not possible to discern the purpose of those objects. While the portal itself is now obscured by vegetation, the area shows little sign of new activity apart from intermittent water drainage to remove natural water seepage in underground tunnels. There is no discernible new dumping on the adjacent spoil pile, indicating no new tunneling has been conducted," 38North said in a report.
Experts believe that despite nuclear testing preparation activities that were noticed in mid-April, the North Korean regime appears to have a "deliberate political decision" not to conduct any new tests. However, the reason behind this strategy still appears to be a mystery.
"While the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site exhibits very little significant new observable activity, it continues to be active and well maintained, appearing to be in a state of nuclear test readiness," 38North said.
Earlier in the month, 38North experts said that thermal images showed that Pyongyang was likely ramping up its plutonium production, adding that evidence indicated that the hermit kingdom was looking to boost its nuclear weapons stockpile.
The think tank's reports of the activities at North Korea's nuclear test site came just a day before Pyongyang fired a missile into the sea of Japan, escalating the already high tensions between the hermit kingdom and international governments. The missile launched is believed to have been North Korea's second ICBM and was reportedly personally overseen by Kim Jong-un.
Interestingly, the missile was launched from a previously unknown site, indicating that Pyongyang may have more secret missile launching sites. Kim allegedly warned that the missile was a stern warning to American president Donald Trump and China, adding that the latest ICBM is proof of his regime's ability to strike "all of the US".