NORTH Korea is ready to launch a nuclear test at its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, the 38 North monitoring group reported on Wednesday.
The 38 North analysis group described the test site as “primed and ready.”
“Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the Main Administrative Area, and a few personnel around the site’s Command Center,” the North Korea-related analysis website said.
A barrage of recent North Korean missile tests has stoked US fears that Pyongyang may soon develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.
There is speculation that the country could be preparing a missile launch, or even another nuclear test -— this would be its sixth — to mark the 105th birthday anniversary of its founder Kim Il-Sung on Saturday.
Reports via the publicly-funded Voice of America and citing US officials said that North Korea “has apparently placed a nuclear device in a tunnel and it could be detonated Saturday AM Korea time.”
President Donald Trump’s administration has been forceful in its warnings to Pyongyang that leave military options “on the table,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said.
The threat carries extra weight after the US strike on a Syrian air base last week.
“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Trump said Wednesday.
“We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.” He was referring to a strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson supercarrier that has been re-routed to the Korean peninsula in a show of force against Kim.
The strike group, which deployed with about 6,500 sailors, is still some way south, conducting exercises with the Australian navy.
The US Navy already has a massive regional presence, including another carrier strike group headquartered at Yokosuka in Japan.
North Korea has told foreign journalists to prepare for a “big and important event” in the capital of Pyongyang as concerns grow within the Australian government.
The mysterious message was sent to journalists visiting in the area on Thursday (local time), although there were no indications it was directly linked to tensions in the region over the isolated state’s nuclear weapons program.
Around 200 foreign journalists are in Pyongyang as the country marks the 105th birth anniversary of its founding president Kim Il Sung on April 15, North Korea’s biggest national day called “Day of the Sun”.
Officials gave no details as to the nature of the event or where it would take place, and similar announcements in the past have been linked to relatively low-key set pieces.
BREAKING: US govt sources say DPRK has apparently placed a nuclear device in a tunnel & it could be detonated Saturday AM Korea time- @W7VOA
— Conflict News (@Conflicts) April 12, 2017
Meanwhile, the Australian Government remains “very concerned” that growing tensions between the US and North Korea could lead to armed conflict.
On Wednesday (AEST), North Korean state media warned it wouldn’t hesitate to launch a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression.
“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the US mainland,” North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.
The threat came as US President Donald Trump accused North Korea of “looking for trouble” in a Twitter post. He also called the rogue nation a “menace”.
North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 11, 2017
Had a very good call last night with the President of China concerning the menace of North Korea.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2017
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT VOICES CONCERNS
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said this morning that while the regime had done nothing more than “sabre rattling” at the moment, he shared the concerns of Canberra-based US diplomat James Caruso that North Korean could develop intercontinental missiles that could reach Australia and the US within two years.
Mr Pyne said US President Donald Trump was working towards a diplomatic solution to the “hermit kingdom’s” growing displays of military power but had showed he was willing to act where necessary.
“We’re very concerned because the North Korean regime is much more unpredictable than almost any of the other hot spots in the world and they have significant military capability,” Mr Pyne told ABC radio today.
“The entire economy of the ‘hermit kingdom’ is directed towards military build up as opposed to feeding and looking after its people.
“As a consequence, they a have the capacity to do a great of damage to their neighbours.
“They can’t yet reach Australia or the continental United States with the missiles they have but they are developing missiles that they would like to be able to use to reach countries like Australia and the US.”
On Wednesday, US charge d’affaires James Caruso told The Australian “extreme concern” was mounting about North Korea’s intentions after the rogue state yesterday declared it was ready for “war” and had its “nuclear sight” trained on America over what it saw as acts of aggression by the Trump administration.
Mr Caruso said the country could have the missile technology to hit Australia within two years.
The Defence Industry Minister today backed those claims.
“The US says so because it’s true,” Mr Pyne said.
“The US does not make things up in this area of diplomacy and military, they don’t simply make wild florid statements.”
Mr Pyne said President Trump had sent the country a clear message and, as the recent strike on a Syrian airfield which allegedly launched a chemical attack on the nations citizens showed, Mr Trump was “matches his rhetoric with action when that’s required”.
“The US is taking the lead, as they should, in firmly reminding North Korea that they need to play in the world as reasonable international citizens,” he said.
“And we hope that that will have the desired impact and we hope that China will play their role as a responsible world power with the most influence over that particular regime.”
Reports of China sending troops to the border yesterday were a “very significant development” and a sign the country was stepping up to that role, he said.
A ‘BIG AND IMPORTANT EVENT’
In 2016, for example, foreign journalists underwent hours of investigation by North Korean officials ahead of what turned out to be a pop concert to mark the finale of a ruling Workers’ Party congress.
But tensions are running high, with a U.S. Navy strike group steaming toward the western Pacific in a show of force and North Korea warning of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a peaceful resolution to the North Korean problem in a telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
In April, 2012, North Korea attempted to launch a long-range rocket ahead of the 100th Day of the Sun. State media later confirmed the launch had failed.
On Wednesday, North Korean officials told foreign journalists in Pyongyang invited to mark the national holiday that their schedule had been cancelled, and to instead meet early on Thursday to prepare for a “big and important event”.
Visits by foreign journalists to North Korea are rare and tightly co-ordinated, and security checks at events attended by leader Kim Jong Un are especially rigorous.
Ordinary North Koreans unfazed by Trump1:05
As North Korea prepares to celebrate the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il Sung, ordinary citizens seem unfazed by Donald Trump’s pledge to “sort out the problem” of Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Graham Mackay reports.
North Korea often uses such visits to showcase new construction projects. In recent weeks workers have been putting the finishing touches to the skyscraper-lined “Ryomyong” street in central Pyongyang.
Kim has made frequent visits to the street to inspect construction work there, according to state media. North Korea has in the past marked its April 15 holiday with tightly choreographed military parades.
SOURCE: newsnow worldnews