The US-based North Korean monitoring service 38 North said Wednesday the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear site is “primed and ready” for sixth nuclear test since 2006.
“Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the Main Administrative Area, and a few personnel around the site’s Command Center,” 38 North said on its website.
South Korean officials, however, played down speculation that a nuclear test was imminent. “There has been no unusual activity so far,” Roh Jae-chun, a spokesman for the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency.
Trump’s warnings that Washington would respond to any North Korean provocation with or without Beijing’s help.
“The Korean peninsula has never been so close to a military clash since the North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006,” it said, adding that Pyongyang “should avoid making mistakes at this time”.
The China Daily, however, adopted a more cautious tone. “The truth is that although the prospect of war may seem real, no party really wants a war,”
“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Mr Trump said on Wednesday. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”
Earlier this week Mr Trump tweeted: “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”
In a phone conversation with Mr Trump on Wednesday, China’s president, Xi Jinping, repeated calls for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue.
“China remains committed to the goal of denuclearizing the (Korean) peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, and advocates resolving problems through peaceful means,” the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV quoted Mr Xi as saying.
The source of Carouso’s claim wasn’t clear, but many experts believe it will take North Korea several years to perfect an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.