By Christopher Mazzacane, International News Writer
Recent satellite imagery obtained by U.S. intelligence organizations suggests that the totalitarian and highly unpredictable North Korean regime may be preparing for an underground nu-clear test in the coming weeks. The intelligence community has been focused on Punggyeri, a known nuclear development and test site. In just the past few weeks, they have observed a significant increase in activity. In addition to an influx of personnel and equipment, they have stated that at least two tunnel entrances have been dugout suggesting the regime is ready for an underground test.
Though the imagery presents compelling evidence of a test, it is impossible for the United States or any other country to determine when or if it will actually occur. The North Korean re-gime has been known to move personnel and equipment from one location to another for the sole purpose of confusing agencies they know are watching their every move.
Whether the test seen in the imagery occurs or not, analysts still agree that North Korea is working hard on its nuclear program is determined to test for a sixth time. In a January state-ment, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un stated that his military had “entered the final stage of preparation for a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile,” according to the Washing-ton Post.
A weapon of this magnitude could reach the Western United States and provide a very real threat to the country’s major cities. Additionally, South Korea, A U.S. ally and neigh-bor of North Korea, has expressed legitimate concern over the North’s increasing nuclear capa-bilities and has appealed to the United States and its regional partners to work to ensure stabil-ity in the region.
North Korea’s nuclear program has been a major U.S. national security concern spanning the terms of multiple presidents with no real end to the rising tensions in sight. In an interview with WNYC, NPR’s New York City affiliate, David Sanger, a correspondent for The New York Times, discussed the Obama administration’s reaction to the problem as well as what we can expect from the Trump administration moving forward.
Obama’s strategy attempted to shift the focus from head to head conflict and relied primarily on clandestine cyberwarfare to thwart the regime’s ability to conduct nuclear operations and gain intelligence. During Presi-dent Trump’s transitional period, Obama warned him “that the growing threat from North Ko-rea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs were likely to be the most urgent problem he would confront,” according to NPR news.. It is still unclear what the Trump administration’s strategy will be moving forward.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 4th print edition.
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