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Aug 5 - UN experts report North Korea is testing nuclear triggers



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Aug 5 - UN experts report North Korea is testing nuclear triggers
 

 
U.N. experts report that North Korea is testing “nuclear triggering devices” and that its preparations for another nuclear test were at a final stage in June, quoting information from unnamed countries.

The panel of experts said in new excerpts from their latest report obtained Friday by The a*sociated Press that they have been “unable to identify the test locations and dates” for the tests of nuclear triggering devices reported by one U.N. member state.

In excerpts obtained Thursday, the experts said North Korea is paving the way for additional nuclear tests with new preparations at its northeastern test site and continues to develop its capability to produce a key ingredient for nuclear weapons.

In the new excerpt, the panel said: “As of early June, two member states a*sessed that the preparation for nuclear tests was at a final stage.”

On other issues, the panel said in Thursday’s excerpts that North Korea conducted two major hacks this year, resulting in the theft of cryptocurrency a*sets worth “hundreds of millions of dollars.” Pyongyang also continues illicitly importing oil and exporting coal in violation of U.N. sanctions, using the same companies, networks and vessels, it said.


South Korean and U.S. intelligence officials have said they detected North Korean efforts to prepare its northeastern Punggye-ri testing ground for another nuclear test. It would be the North’s seventh since 2006 and the first since September 2017, when it claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear bomb to fit on its intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The panel of experts’ report to the U.N. Security Council provides some details of the work being carried out at the site by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name.

The experts said they observed that the DPRK started re-excavation work in March at the entrance to Tunnel 3 at Punggye-ri “and reconstructed support buildings originally dismantled in May 2018.”

“Satellite imagery showed increased numbers of vehicle tracks around this secondary entrance from mid-February 2022, followed by construction of a new building adjacent to the entrance at the beginning of March,” the panel said. “A pile of lumber, for possible use in the construction of the tunnel structure, was also detected around the same time.”

It added that, “Piles of soil from the tunnel excavation around the entrance were observed during this period.”

“Work 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 is an objective stated at the Eighth Congress of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea in January 2021.

Robert Floyd, head of the U.N. nuclear test ban treaty organization, told a U.N. press conference Friday that its monitoring facilities detected the six previous DPRK nuclear tests. “If there is a seventh time, I’m very confident our system will pick it up, we’ll characterize it, and that information then gets shared with the states of the world,” he said
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