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North Korea Preparing For Another Nuclear Test – Report |The Republican News

John Haltiwanger
There's a significant amount of tunneling activity at North Korea's nuclear testing site, commercial satellite images show, which suggests it's prepping the area for a future nuclear test.: 01_11_North_Korea_nuclear_test             © Getty Images 01_11_North_Korea_nuclear_test

 

There’s a significant amount of tunneling activity at North Korea’s nuclear testing site, commercial satellite images show, suggesting the area is being prepped for a future nuclear test, according to a report from 38 North, a website dedicated to analyzing the rogue state.

Tunnel excavation has been ramped up at the West Portal at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, while the North Portal remains dormant, the images show.

“Throughout December 2017, mining carts and personnel were consistently present around the West Portal and there was significant expansion of the spoil pile,” 38 North’s report, released Thursday, stated. “On December 28, there were also a large number of personnel (~100 to 200) observed in seven different formations whose purpose is unknown in the Southern Support Area.”

The images can be viewed via the tweet below.

North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test—its most powerful to date—at the site in early September. Shortly thereafter, in October, it was reported that Chinese geologists had warned North Korea the mountainous test site was on the verge of catastrophe.

A senior Chinese nuclear scientist told the reclusive nation another test could blow off the top of the mountain and cause a massive collapse. Not long after this was reported, there was a collapse at the site, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of around 200 people.

A little less than two months after its latest nuclear test, North Korea threatened to conduct a seventh test over the Pacific Ocean, which could pose a huge risk to shipping and aircraft.

At the moment, there are tenuous hopes for relative peace on the Korean Peninsula, after the North and South re-established dialogue. As a result, it was decided earlier this week that North Korea would participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February.

This decision was aided, in part, by a decision from the U.S. and South Korea to put off any large-scale military exercises until after the games. But this has not stopped U.S. military activity in the region entirely, as three B-2 stealth bombers were deployed this week to the U.S. territory of Guam, which has been threatened repeatedly by North Korea. (Newsweek)

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Defected North Korean Nuclear Scientist Commits Suicide After Being Forced to Return

Juliana Rose Pignataro
a group of people standing in a field posing for the camera                            © Provided by IBT US 

A North Korean nuclear scientist who defected to China committed suicide after being forced to return back, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday. The defector was a researcher at the physics center in the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang, the report said.

The scientist was identified as Hyun Cheoi Huh, though RFA clarified it was unclear whether that was his real name. The man reportedly took a leave of absence from his job at the academy before defecting.

He was sent back to North Korea Nov. 17, RFA reported.

“He killed himself only a few hours after he was placed in solitary confinement at the State Security Department in Sinuiju city,” a source told RFA, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “He died before he could be questioned about the reasons for his escape, and what his route had been.”

The man took poison inside the security cell where he was set to be questioned. It remained unclear how he smuggled the poison inside.

The man was detained in China and sent back to North Korea. It appeared he had kept his occupation a secret when he was detained, RFA reported, though it was unclear why.

“If the Chinese government had known who he was, they would have wanted to learn what he knew and would never have sent him back,” the source said.  (International Business Insider)

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North Korea ‘Executes Official In Charge Of Nuclear Test Site’ |The Republican News

Samuel Osborne
a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera           © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly executed the official responsible for the country’s nuclear test site.Park In-young was the chief of Bureau 131, a division of the ruling Workers Party of Korea’s Central Committee tasked with supervising military facilities such as the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility and the Sohae Satellite Launching Station.The official was dismissed and then executed as part of a recent purge, an unnamed North Korean defector told Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Two potential reasons were given for the reported execution.

Mr Park could have been blamed for North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test being delayed, the defector said. The test was originally planned to take place in Spring, but was pushed back to 3 September due to delays in tunnel construction.

Experts have warned a series of tremors and landslides near the nuclear test facility probably mean the country’s latest nuclear blast has destabilised the region, and the Punggye-ri nuclear site may not be in use much longer.

Chinese scientists have warned that if the whole mountain collapsed, radiation could escape and drift across the region.

It is also possible Mr Park was held responsible for the reported collapse of a tunnel in October, which killed around 200 people, though North Korea has denied the reports. (The Independent)

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North Korea ‘Accidentally Reveals First Atomic Bomb In The Background Of State TV Footage’

Chris kitching
a group of people in a room                    © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc
North Korea appears to have inadvertently revealed a never-before-seen photo of one of its first atomic bombs while broadcasting footage of a conference.The snap – previously unseen in the West – shows former leader Kim Jong-il inspecting a possible weapon of mass destruction.

The photo was hanging on a wall in the background as state TV showed footage from an arms and munitions industry conference attended by current dictator Kim Jong-un.

a group of people standing in front of a building                            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

It shows the new leader’s father, who died in 2011, looking at a large globe-like object with other officials from the regime.

North Korea observers believe the object could be an atomic bomb, pointing to similarities between that image and recent snaps showing Kim Jong-un inspecting what Pyongyang claimed was a hydrogen bomb, one of which was hanging nearby.

The photo of Kim Jong-il and the round object was first spotted by a China-based Twitter user, the BBC reported.

a man wearing a suit and tie                      © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc

The user, xutianran, wrote: “Is this an A-bomb or sth [something]?”

That sparked an effort to try to verify the object, with speculation that it could have been taken in 2006 or 2009 when Kim Jong-il oversaw nuclear tests.

But it is still possible that the globe is a mock device given its small size, the report added.

a group of people standing next to a man in a military uniform: Credits: AFP                      © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

The hermit state has inadvertently given away some of its secrets in past state news reports.

In August, new ballistic missile types were seen on wall charts as Kim Jong-un visited a defence facility.

North Korea has carried out a series of intercontinental ballistic missile tests this year, in addition to its sixth nuclear test ever, despite UN sanctions.

Kim Jong-un standing in front of a snow covered mountain: Credits: AFP                 © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

Pyongyang is working to develop a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the US mainland, and the dictator recently told of his plans to include atomic bombs in its arsenal of catastrophic weapons.

He vowed to make North Korea the world’s “strongest nuclear power” as he spoke to military scientists this week.

The despot said: “We will develop new strategic weapon systems, including atomic bombs, hydrogen and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

a group of people standing in the grass: Credits: REUTERS            © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: REUTERS

“Our defense industry, self-defense power has been enormously strengthened at an extraordinary speed, and our republic will become the world’s strongest nuclear power and a military power. We will fight for it.”   (Mirror)

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The Bizarrely Mundane Reasons Why North Korea Stopped Testing Missiles

Alex Ward
                                        © KNS / KCNA / AFP 

Tensions between North Korea and the United States reached a boiling point this year, with President Donald Trump threatening to unleash “fire and fury” against Pyongyang, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un saying he would “surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.”

But North Korea hasn’t launched a missile since September 15, when a projectile flew over Japan and landed harmlessly in the ocean. US Special Envoy for North Korea Joseph Yun speculated that a testing break this long could be a sign that Pyongyang was ready to start negotiations over its nuclear program.

a screen shot of Kim Jong-un                        © Provided by Vox.com

The problem is that focusing on this relative period of calm shifts attention away from a more troubling possibility: that North Korea may be preparing to launch missiles in early 2018 during the Olympics in neighboring South Korea.

“There would be no better time for North Korea to test a more fearsome three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile, big hydrogen bomb, or even try to launch a cyberattack on the Olympics themselves,” Harry Kazianis, an Asia security expert at the Center for the National Interest, told me.

He noted that Kim might be holding on to his arsenal to make a splash during the two-week event that will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea — only 60 miles from the Korean border.

                                © STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

But experts say there are also mundane reasons why North Korea isn’t launching right now: the weather in North Korea is hostile during the winter, which makes it harder to test missiles, and North Korean troops are too busy harvesting food to eat.

All of which means North Korea’s decision not to launch any missiles in recent weeks isn’t a sign of a sudden change of heart in Pyongyang. Instead, it could be sign that Kim is prepared to move closer to the brink of all-out confrontation with the US.

“This is all just the calm before the storm”

Many experts bluntly believe that the current lull likely won’t last.

“If North Korea follows the usual cycle, I’d expect testing to pick back up again next year,” Sheena Greitens, a North Korea expert at the University of Missouri, told me.

Here’s what she means by that: North Korea usually stops testing around September, as the Forbes chart below shows.

a screenshot of a computer                            © Provided by Vox.com

But in February 2018, the world’s best athletes will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea. That may be too good an opportunity to showcase North Korean prowess for Kim to pass up.

“If I was a betting man I would tell anyone who watches North Korea for a living to make sure their calendar is open from February 5th to the 22nd,” Kazianis told me, referring the competition’s dates. “This is all just the calm before the storm.”

It’s worth noting that North Korea could still launch a missile this year. On November 20, President Donald Trump put North Korea back on the state sponsors of terrorism list — which slaps even more sanctions on the country — and Pyongyang may want to respond quickly and forcefully.

But if history is a guide, there are reasons to believe North Korea may not test a weapon again in 2017.

North Korea has other priorities right now

Missile launches require good weather. Even NASA delays rocket launches sometimes because of storms.

                                         © AFP PHOTO

That poses a problem for North Korea, which suffers from brutally cold and blustery winter weather. The country is sometimes called the “frozen land,” and the temperature can drop well below zero. Its capital city, Pyongyang, sees an average of 37 snowfall days per year. It’s therefore pretty hard to plan a missile launch when conditions are so poor.

At the same time, North Korea’s harvest season takes place during the last three months of the year. Instead of preparing missile launches, North Korean troops travel to rural areas to perform mundane agricultural chores, according to Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on North Korea’s missile program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies

And distributing harvested crops around the country doesn’t just require manpower, it also requires fuel — the same fuel Pyongyang would use to propel its missiles. But North Korea has a limited supply of it, and the amount is likely dwindling because of harsh sanctions slapped on it by the US, China, and Europe. So come winter time, Pyongyang prioritizes food transportation over missile launches.

Many of North Korea’s 25 million citizens are starving, and the poor weather conditions exacerbate that problem. North Koreansusually eat about 1,640 calories each day, while US health officials recommend consuming around 2,000 per day.

“Life is little more than a daily struggle to find enough food to stay alive,” Alf Evans, a British aid worker who spent time in rural North Korea, told the Telegraph in 2013. “Every scrap of earth that can be used to grow something is being used.”

There may also be a third reason for the lack ofrecentmissile tests: The North Korean military usually trains in the winter, Van Jackson, an Asia security expert at Victoria University of Wellington, told Bloomberg. Preparations for the exercises require resources like fuel and money, which means there are fewer of each to launch missiles. The drills usually begin in December and sometimes continue into April.

So all signs for now point to a quieter end of the year. That means it’s worth enjoying the break in the action — because it may soon get much worse.    (Vox.com)

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U.S. Will Defend Allies From North Korea With ‘Full Range Of Unmatched Military Capability’ – Donald Trump

President Donald Trump gestures during a joint press conference with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul© AFP President Donald Trump gestures during a joint press conference with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul  

Donald Trump has said the US will defend its allies against North Korea using the “full range of our unmatched military capabilities, if need be”.

The US President raised the spectre of nuclear war during a visit to Seoul, South Korea.

At a press conference alongside President Moon Jae-in, Mr Trump said Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes were threatening “millions” of people.

Trump wants £3m to ‘detect, defeat, and defend’ against North Korea

“It’s time to act with urgency and great determination,” he said.

While the US was trying to talk Kim Jong-un down from his nuclear ambitions using “all available tools short of military action”, Mr Trump said that “the US stands prepared to defend itself and its allies using the full range of our unmatched military capabilities, if need be”.

He made similar comments earlier in his tour of the Asia-Pacific region, when he told troops at Yokota air base near Tokyo: “Together with our allies, America’s warriors are prepared to defend our nation using the full range of our unmatched capabilities.”

Mr Moon said he and Mr Trump had finalised an earlier agreement to allow South Korea to possess more powerful missiles in the face of growing North Korean threats.

He said the two had agreed to lift the warhead payload limits on South Korean ballistic missiles and that the allies are also cooperating on strengthening South Korea’s defence capabilities through the acquisition or development of advanced weapons systems.      (The Independent)

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North Korea Nucleaar Tests ‘Leading To Deformed Babies, Turning Province Into Wasteland’

Samuel Osborne

 North Korea’s  nuclear test site has been turned into a wasteland where babies are born with defects, defectors have reported
Defectors from Kilju county, where the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test facility is located, have said 80 per cent of trees that are planted die and underground wells have run dry.

The witness accounts come from a group of 21 defectors who used to live in the region who were interviewed by the Research Association of Vision of North Korea, according to the South Korean Chosun

Ilbo newspaper.

a group of people posing for the camera                  © Provided by Independent Print Limited

One defector said people in the region are worried about contamination from radiation.

“I heard from a relative in Kilju that deformed babies were born in hospitals there,” another said.

Another former resident, referring to the regime’s most recent nuclear test, said: “I spoke on the phone with family members I left behind there and they told me that all of the underground wells dried up after the sixth nuclear test.”

The defectors, which include one person who claimed to have experienced two nuclear tests in October 2006 and May 2009, said locals were not warned in advance.

Kim Jong-un                   © Getty Kim Jong-un  

“Only family members of soldiers were evacuated to underground shafts,” they said. “Ordinary people were completely unaware of the tests.”

Other sources said residents from Kilju have been banned from making hospital appointments in the capital, Pyongyang, since the most recent nuclear test.

Officials are reportedly attempting to contain leaks from the area by arresting anyone caught bording trains from Kilju with samples of soil, water or leaves, and sending them to prison camps.   (The Independent)

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