Entries in Nuclear test (3)


US Keeps Heat on North Korea Ahead of Planned Rocket Launch

Ryan McVay/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. is warning that North Korea risks further isolation from the world community if it moves ahead with a planned rocket launch for later this week and possibly, a third underground nuclear test.

Satellite images obtained by officials in South Korea suggest that Pyongyang is building underground tunnels where it could detonate a nuclear weapon.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland acknowledged on Monday that the U.S. could not say definitively if North Korea is planning a third underground test, which would presumably occur after the launch of what Pyongyang claims is a weather satellite between April 12 to April 16 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung.

White House press secretary Jay Carney concurred with Nuland that North Korea was risking only more isolation should the launch take place.

Carney told reporters on Monday that Pyongyang's defiance would derail an opportunity "to rejoin the community of nations and to do something about the extreme poverty and depravation that its people suffer."

The U.S. has already cut off 240 tons of food that would have gone to children and pregnant women because of North Korea's decision to conduct the launch.  It was just two months ago that Pyongyang told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that it would halt nuclear tests, uranium enrichment and long-range missile launches.

In a related development, the Pentagon issued a statement late Monday that “Secretary [of Defense Leon] Panetta and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin spoke by phone this evening to discuss the announced North Korean missile launch.  Both leaders would regard a missile launch by North Korea as a serious provocation and a violation of North Korea’s international obligations and standing UN Security Council Resolutions.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


North Korea Prepares Third Nuclear Test

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PYONGYANG, North Korea) -- As North Korea prepares to launch its controversial rocket this week, recent satellite images show they are also readying for a third nuclear underground test, according to South Korean media quoting anonymous government officials.

The North is reportedly in the final stages of excavating new tunnels at its Punggye-ri site in Kilju, North Hamgyong province, where they conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.  U.S. commercial satellite photos show piles of dirt being moved in from other areas starting last month.  An underground nuclear test requires massive amounts of dirt to fill up the tunnels.

Experts in Seoul, South Korea, say the nuclear test preparation is a calculated move in case the U.S. does not deliver the food aid it had promised on Feb. 29.  Washington and Pyongyang had reached a significant deal then to give 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance in return for suspension of North Korea’s nuclear program and missile tests.

“This is their hidden card to make sure they get that,” said Baek Seung-joo, a North Korea specialist at Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

But North Korea on March 16 announced it will launch a satellite into orbit between April 12 to 16 to commemorate the 100th birth year of its late-founder Kim Il Sung.  The U.S. then stated that the planned food assistance would be suspended.

The international community has strongly condemned the launch, saying that what North Koreans call “a satellite for peaceful purposes” is actually a cover for testing a long-range missile as both require similar technology.  Experts say the Unha-3 rocket could be a test for missiles far enough to reach the U.S., but the North is not believed to have the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on it yet.

In a rare move, Pyongyang has invited foreign journalists to the Tongchang-ri missile launch pad to witness the rocket taking off.

“They invited to show the world that this is not a breach of the deal with the U.S. since it is a rocket, not a missile weapon.  So if Americans won’t give that food aid which they desperately need, they can say you broke the deal, so we are going ahead and testing another nuclear bomb,” said Baek.

Neighboring South Korea and Japan have stated that their militaries are prepared to shoot down the rocket if any parts fall in their territories.  North Korea’s Foreign Ministry has threatened that it would consider any attempt to strike the Unha-3 to be a declaration of war.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


North Korea Readies for Controversial Rocket Launch 

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- North Korea has moved a long-range rocket into place for a controversial launch later this month, the BBC reports.

Pyongyang said the rocket will put a satellite into orbit, but opponents believe the nation is disguising a long-range missile test. Officials from South Korea say satellite images indicate the North is preparing to carry out a third nuclear test. An agreement by North Korea in February to freeze nuclear activities and missile tests in exchange for U.S. food aid was put on hold in March when the country announced its plans to launch the rocket.

South Korea and Japan said they will shoot down the rocket, which is scheduled to be launched between April 12 and 16, if it strays into their territory.

North Korea's neighbors and the international community have scrutinized the guarded nation since the death of Kim Jong-il last December led to his son Kim Jong-un taking over as leader.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio