A North Korea nuclear test may be in the works as recent commercial satellite imagery spotted activity at its Punggye-ri test site’s South and West portals.
According to website 38 North, the test site's North Portal, where North Korea's last five nuclear tests were conducted, has remained dormant but tunnel excavation has been increased at its West Portal.
Mining carts and personnel were regularly spotted around the West Portal through December with a significant expansion of a spoil pile, 38 North reported, and a large number of personnel in seven formations were seen in the southern support area.
The website said the activity was proof that North Korea was maintaining the site for future tests.
South China Morning Post reported that the pictures were taken before a New Year's speech by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in which he warned President Donald Trump about a "nuclear button" on his desk, while also offering to hold talks with Seoul.
Trump famously pushed back against the Kim’s threat on Twitter.
Despite all the bluster, North Korea started dialogue with South Korea, Newsweek magazine reported, and said it now will be sending a team and a high-level delegation to the Winter Olympics.
Trump said on Twitter on Thursday that talks between North and South Korea were "a good thing," but the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley added that the U.S. "won’t take any of the talks seriously if they don't do something to ban all nuclear weapons in North Korea," Newsweek said.
According to Reuters, Ri Son Gwon, head of North Korea's delegation at the inter-Korean talks, reportedly said that "North Korea's weapons are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, China or Russia," and that its nuclear program was not an issue between the two countries.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin implied that Kim had one-upped Trump, saying North Korea "won this match" in the contest to acquire nuclear weapons, according to Bloomberg News.
Putin called Kim educated and "shrewd and mature" during the latest standoff with South Korea and others over his nuclear and missile program.
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