North Korea is said to have covered the entrances to two tunnels at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, raising speculations that the regime may conduct a sixth nuclear test in the near future.
Multiple government sources in Seoul said on Wednesday that the North put up large camouflage nets not only over the entrance of the No. 2 tunnel, where it conducted the fifth nuclear test, but also at the No. 3 tunnel, where it has been cited the North may conduct its next nuclear test.
A source said the situation at the two tunnels are identical to what was observed in the North prior to the fifth nuclear test and the country is assessed to have finished the preparations to conduct a nuclear test anytime in either of the two tunnels.
Another source said the North’s fifth nuclear test came only 16 days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered his officials to step up efforts to weaponize nuclear materials in August.
The source said that there is high possibility that the North will make a provocative move such as a nuclear test or launch of a Mount Baekdu-type intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM) on a meaningful day for the regime, such as the anniversary of the founding of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party on October tenth.
The “Mount Baekdu-type liquid rocket,” unveiled by the North’s Rodong Sinmun on Tuesday, is presumed by the South Korean authorities as a variant of the long-range Taepodong missile.
A Taepodong-1 can fly up to two-thousand-500 kilometers and is classified as an intermediate-range ballistic missile(IRBM), while a Taepodong-2, capable of flying a distance of ten-thousand kilometers, is categorized as an ICBM.
The South Korean military and the authorities do not exclude the possibility the North will conduct a series of provocations involving a nuclear test and the test of a Baekdu-type ICBM and are strengthening their surveillance of the North.