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UN experts report North Korea testing nuclear triggers


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — UN experts reported that North Korea is testing “nuclear trigger devices” and that preparations for a new nuclear test in June are in the final stages, citing information from unnamed countries.

The panel of experts said in new excerpts from the latest report obtained by the Associated Press on Friday that they “failed to determine test locations and dates” for tests of nuclear trigger devices reported by a UN member state.

In excerpts obtained on Thursday, experts said North Korea has paved the way for additional nuclear tests with new preparations at its northeastern test site and continues to develop its capacity to manufacture a key component for nuclear weapons.

In the new excerpt, the panel said: “In early June, the two member states assessed that preparations for nuclear tests are in the final stages.”

On other issues, the panel said in excerpts Thursday that North Korea carried out two major hacks this year, resulting in the theft of “hundreds of millions of dollars” in crypto assets. It was stated that Pyongyang continues to illegally import oil and export coal in violation of UN sanctions using the same companies, networks and ships.

South Korean and US intelligence officials said they had detected efforts by North Korea to prepare the northeastern Punggye-ri test site for another nuclear test. This will be the North’s seventh since 2006, and the first since September 2017, when it claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear bomb to fit its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The report submitted by the panel of experts to the UN Security Council gives some details of the work carried out on the ground by the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Experts said that NRW began re-excavating the entrance to Tunnel 3 in Punggye-ri in March and observed that it was “reconstructing the support buildings that were dismantled in May 2018”.

“Satellite imagery showed an increasing number of vehicle tracks around this secondary entrance from mid-2022, after which a new building was constructed adjacent to the entrance in early March,” the panel said. A lumber pile likely to be used in the construction of the tunnel was also detected at the same time.”

During this period, heaps of soil from the tunnel excavation were observed around the entrance.”

“Working at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site paves the way for additional nuclear tests for the development of nuclear weapons,” the experts said, adding that this was a goal stated at the eighth Congress of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. January 2021.

Robert Floyd, head of the UN nuclear test ban treaty organization, said at a UN press conference on Friday that monitoring facilities had detected six previous DPRK nuclear tests. “I’m very confident that if it happens for the seventh time, our system will pick it up, characterize it, and that information will then be shared with the states of the world,” he said.

Floyd attends the high-level conference reviewing the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which began on Monday and ended on August 26. Under the provisions of the NPT, the five original nuclear powers — the United States, China, Russia (later the Soviet Union), Britain, and France — agreed to one day negotiate to eliminate their arsenals, and non-nuclear-weapon countries would seek nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. They promised not to acquire them in exchange for a guarantee of development.

Floyd raised the question of whether the prospect of the DPRK’s seventh nuclear test could strengthen nonproliferation and disarmament regulations and “states’ appetite to see these things happen.”

“I wonder how much that really fuels the tone we heard this week during the review conference where the various positions were pretty much covered,” he said.

“I wonder if states recognize that it’s really important at a time like this to be able to strengthen the NPT and come together around some of these very important issues. something important, like the cornerstone of nuclear architecture,” said Floyd.

In another aspect of the DPRK’s nuclear program, analysts said last September, satellite imagery showed North Korea expanding a uranium enrichment facility at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex, a sign that it wants to increase production of key bomb material.

UN experts said in the new report: “The DPRK continued to develop its capacity for the production of nuclear fissile materials at the Yongbyon field.”

Nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea have stalled since 2019 amid disagreements over North Korea’s request to lift US-led sanctions and Washington’s demand for Pyongyang to take significant steps toward nuclear disarmament.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has expanded its ballistic missile program amid a diplomatic pause, and analysts say another nuclear test will raise the North’s threshold, aimed at consolidating its nuclear power status and negotiating economic and security concessions from a strong position.

The panel of experts said the DPRK continues to accelerate its missile programs, launching 31 missiles “combining ballistic and guidance technologies”, including six ICBMs and two “clearly described as ballistic weapons.” He said the DPRK also claimed to be advancing “tactical nuclear weapon” development.



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