'Significant' Activity Spotted At North Korea's Nuclear-Testing Site

Yonhap via AP/Kim Ju-sung

“Significant” tunneling work has been detected at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, according to a Washington-based think tank that monitors the communist state’s activities.

A report issued Thursday by 38 North says the activity — spotted in satellite images taken last month — underscores Pyongyang’s efforts to maintain the site despite news that tunnel collapses killed several hundred people there after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.

A map depicting North Korea with a radiation warning symbol and the flag of North Korea, in relation to North Korea's nuclear weapon tests in 21st century.Wikimedia Commons

While work remains dormant at the “North Portal,” which is the site of the past five underground blasts, the satellite images show that excavation work at the “West Portal” has been “stepped up,” said 38 North, which is run by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

“Throughout December 2017, mining carts and personnel were consistently present around the West Portal and there was significant expansion of the spoil pile,” the report said. “On December 28, there were also a large number of personnel observed in seven different formations whose purpose is unknown in the Southern Support Area.”

38 North said it is rare to see people in that support area, and the purpose of their activities is unknown.

Water was seen draining from the north portal’s entrance, the report said, adding that no other significant activity was observed at Punggye-ri’s other facilities.

38 North’s report comes the same week that North Korea agreed to send athletes and officials to next month’s Winter Olympics in the South and to discuss easing military hostilities.

The high-profile meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom was held after more than two years of crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons progress, beginning with the communist state’s fourth nuclear test in January 2016. The North has since conducted two other nuclear tests and test-fired dozens of missiles, most recently an ICBM on Nov. 29.


©2018 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Veterans are pushing back against a Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which a woman with no military experience argued that women do not belong in combat units.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump was reeling from sharp rebukes at home and abroad over his surprise announcement last month to immediately pull American troops out of Syria when he flew into the al Asad airbase in neighboring Iraq the day after Christmas.

Inside a canvas Quonset hut, one of the arced prefabricated structures used by the military and surrounded by concertina wire, Trump received operational briefs from U.S. commanders suggesting a territorial victory against Islamic State was within sight, but the military needed just a bit more time, U.S. officials said.

Read More Show Less
Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Ferdinando

The Coast Guard's top officer is telling his subordinates to "stay the course" after they missed their regularly scheduled paycheck amid the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

In a message to the force sent Tuesday, Adm. Karl L. Schultz said both he and the Department of Homeland Security Secretary remain "fully engaged" on the missing pay issue, which have caused "anxiety and uncertainty" for Coasties and their families.

Read More Show Less

After years of frequent mechanical failures ad embarrassing cost overruns, the Navy finally plans on deploying three hulls from its much-derided Littoral Combat Ship fleet by this fall after a protracted absence from the high seas, the U.S. Naval Institute reports.

Read More Show Less