With controversy raging over North Korea's plans to launch a rocket, now an underground nuclear test is allegedly being planned, according to reports leaked by South Korea.
Digital Journal reported on April 8 that the controversial North Korean rocket was ready for launch.
Now yet more controversy is raging because North Korea is apparently planning an underground nuclear test.
In a news report yesterday, the South Korean news agency Yonhap leaked the information that it has received from an anonymous domestic security source. The article claims that the nuclear underground test will occur in Kilju, on the Chinese border, as with the 2 previous detonations in 2006 and 2009. Previous nuclear tests brought international sanctions against the country and now, with tensions running high over the rocket launch, this is likely to happen again.
This news seems to be based on high-resolution satellite photos received by the news agency, showing a build-up of earth close to the entrance of a tunnel on the site.
Government analysts have said that they considered it a potential sign of preparations for a test, as a large amount of earth would be needed to seal the tunnel before detonating a nuclear device underground.
Any nuclear test would be in contravention of an agreement made in February, when North Korea agreed to halt its nuclear program. The country was offered food aid in exchange.
Pyongyang insists that the rocket is to launch a satellite into orbit to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-Sung. However, it is believed that this missile launch is already a threat to the anti-nuclear agreement.
The information sourced by Yonhap on the allegedly proposed nuclear test has now been picked up by many international media outlets.
However, Martin Droll, who is communications director of the Korean Friendship Association in the U.S., states that he believes the reports of alleged nuclear tests are "ridiculous". He says this type of report is common in the media in South Korea.
“There’s absolutely no evidence of that,” he told RT. “The North is very sure of its nuclear capabilities and doesn’t need to conduct further tests.”
Droll feels that because Pyongyang has made agreements with the U.S. in order to receive food aid, they are highly unlikely to risk breaking the agreement.
However, Japanese, Chinese and South Korean ministers have met over the weekend in Ningbo to discuss methods of diverting a repeat of the nuclear tests, which have caused such controversy in the past.
With Wednesday being the date of the parliamentary elections in South Korea, the main opposition Democratic United Party has accused the government's National Intelligence Service of leaking the news to try to help the conservative government party keep their position by emphasizing a nuclear threat in North Korea.
Park Yong-jin, a spokesman for the opposition party said: “North Korea has been hinting at a possible nuclear test for a month. We wonder why the National Intelligence Service was highlighting this to the people and news media now, only three days before the election.”
In an unprecedented move, North Korea has allowed Western journalists to photograph the ballistic missile which is due to be launched this week: