North Korea may hold off on conducting a nuclear test until it feels the event will draw maximum global attention, Stars and Stripes reported.
Recent commercial satellite photographs of the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site reveal a great deal of activity that is likely related to preparations for anther underground atomic explosion, experts say. While some in South Korea predicted that Pyongyang would choose to detonate its fourth device during U.S. President Obama’s visit to Seoul last weekend, that never happened.
Ohm Tae-am, an analyst with the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, told the newspaper on Thursday that the North might be delaying its test because other international events are attracting so much attention.
The April 16 sinking of a ferry filled with South Korean students has distracted Seoul, he said. “South Korea’s interest in inter-Korean relations has been pushed aside, and because of that, North Korea is not likely to conduct its fourth nuclear test now,” Ohm said.
Meanwhile, the “U.S. has its eyes on the Middle East and Ukraine right now,” said the analyst.
The North Korean foreign ministry on Tuesday said there was “no statute of limitations” for when Pyongyang might carry out its repeatedly threatened “new” kind of atomic demonstration.
The expert website 38 North in a Wednesday analysis of satellite images taken the day prior concluded a “high level of activity” continues to be seen at the test site.
“If North Korea follows previous test practices, a continued high level of activity indicates that a nuclear test is not yet imminent,” reads the brief by image expert Jack Liu. “Before the February 2013 detonation, all equipment, vehicles and personnel were withdrawn immediately before the blast.”
Liu said he could not see signs that any of the tunnels at the test site had been closed off, which is typically one of the final steps before a nuclear blast takes place.
What We're Following See More »
"Ret. Vice Adm. Bob Harward turned down President Donald Trump's offer to be national security adviser Thursday, depriving the administration of a top candidate for a critical foreign policy post days after Trump fired Michael Flynn." Among the potential reasons: his family, his lack of assurances that he could build his own team, and that "the White House seems so chaotic."
"The House passed a resolution Thursday re-opening the door for states to block Planned Parenthood from receiving some federal funds. The measure, which passed 230-188, would reverse a last-minute rule from the Obama administration that said conservative states can't block the women's health and abortion provider from receiving family planning dollars under the Title X program."