President Moon Jae-in’s spokesman said that Kim Jong-un had stated he “would carry out the closing of the nuclear test site in May”.
Yoon Young-chan added that the North Korean leader had also said he “would soon invite experts of South Korea and the US to disclose the process to the international community with transparency”.
President Moon Jae-in’s office also said North Korea would change its time zone – currently half an hour different – to match that of South Korea.
North Korea has so far made no public comments on the issue.
Situated in mountainous terrain in the north-east, the Punggye-ri site is thought to be North Korea’s main nuclear facility.
The nuclear tests have taken place in a system of tunnels dug below Mount Mantap, near the Punggye-ri site.
Six nuclear tests have been carried out there since 2006.
After the last nuclear test, in September 2017, a series of aftershocks hit the site, which seismologists believe collapsed part of the mountain’s interior.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency Kim Jong-un made an apparent reference to these reports, saying: “Some say that we are terminating facilities that are not functioning, but you will see that they are in good condition.”
The information about the Punggye-ri site has been gathered mainly from satellite imagery and tracking the movement of equipment at the location.
North Korea is building a new tunnel at its nuclear test site, recent satellite images indicate.
A report on 38 North, a website run by the US-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, studied images taken between April and November.
These appeared to show work in a new area of the Punggye-ri nuclear zone.
However, the report said, there is no sign that any nuclear test is imminent.
North Korea carried out three underground nuclear tests at Punggye-ri in 2006, 2009 and 2013. The country’s nuclear program has been a source of great concern for the international community.
The tunnel identified in the latest imagery is in a new area of the site, separate from three other tunnels that North Korea has excavated or used for tests in the past, the report said.
“While there are no indications that a nuclear test is imminent, the new tunnel adds to North Korea’s ability to conduct additional detonations over the coming years if it chooses to do so,” it added.
The commercially-available satellite imagery on which the researchers based their conclusions appear to show a new tunnel entrance, the site’s fourth, as well as signs of construction work taking place as recently as October and November.
The report says some analysts believe each entrance connects to a single tunnel but there is debate about the exact nature and structure of the underground testing facility.
It is not the first indication of construction activity at the site. In October, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean government source saying there were workers constructing a new tunnel at Punggye-ri.
In September, North Korea said that its reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear facility, the source of plutonium for the country’s nuclear weapons, had resumed normal operations.
Yongbyon’s reactor was shut down in 2007 but Pyongyang vowed to restart it in 2013, following its third nuclear test and amid high regional tensions.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.