North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

More activity at Punggye-ri (updated 2 Feb)

Preparation work continues at the DPRK's nuclear test facility at Punggye-ri (Photo: Yonhap)

Preparation work continues at the DPRK’s nuclear test facility at Punggye-ri (Photo: Yonhap)


On 2 February (Saturday), South Korean [ROK] media reported that additional preparatory activity was spotted at the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility in Kilchu County, North Hamgyo’ng Province.   An unnamed sources told Yonhap News Agency that “at a tunnel in the southern part of the test site in Punggye-ri, we’ve found that work presumed to be part of preparations for a nuclear test has entered its final stage” and that “the North may conduct the test at either the western or southern tunnels. But the activities spotted near the southern one could be aimed at distracting us from the more likely place of the western tunnel, so we are monitoring closely,”

The Russian Foreign Ministry differed with prevailing predictions of a DPRK nuclear test on 1 February (Friday).  Xinhua English reported that “Moscow has no verified information” about a nuclear test.  According to Xinhua citing an Interfax report Grigory Logvinov said, “But in reality, we have not got information whether or not the device has been planted. . .We don’t comment on various hypothetical speculations. We are guided with the official data available, so we don’t talk about any secret decisions.”  Logvinov also alluding to DPRK state media saying “serious decisions” were undertaken said “We’ve got that official information which gives us possibility to make conclusions.”

Yonhap  reported on 1 February (Friday) that South Korean [ROK] Minister of Unification Yu Woo-ik told a meeting of Ministry officials that a third experimental nuclear detonation at Punggye-ri “could mean it (DPRK) is in the final stages (of making weapons).”  According to KBS World Yu “stressed that the current situation is much more critical than Pyongyang’s two previous nuclear tests, noting that the third test could be the final stage for North Korea’s nuclear development” and “reaffirming that grave consequences would follow if the test is carried out.”  Yu, according to Yonhap, “said that because of the greater threat the next detonation poses to national security, the South should not let its guard down and deal with the move in a firm manner” and remarked that “Handling this potential test like it dealt with the two previous detonations is not the right way.”

Yu’s remarks were published the same day as anonymous South Korean [ROK] government sources told Yonhap that “Analysis showed a camouflage net looking like a roof was placed on the tunnel entrance.  The move seems to be aimed at keeping nuclear test preparations near their completion from being exposed outside.”  Another anonymous official said “It seems like a disturbing tactic, similar to one that was used when the North prepared for a long-range rocket in December last year.”  Of course, last December, a hullaballoo ensued when the DPRK announced it extended the long-rang rocket U’nha’3’s launch period and gave the satellite imagery analyst eyes in the sky the tableau vivant of taking apart the rocket.

Here’s an insider Pyongyang-watching baseball questionWere the nuclear test-based Party Cell Secretaries exempted from the 4th Meeting of Party Cell Secretaries, held earlier this week in Pyongyang, or did they have to shuttle between the revolutionary capital and Kilchu County?

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This entry was posted on 02/02/2013 by in 2013 Strategic Rhetoric, 2nd Academy of Natural Science, Central Committee, Central Military Committee, Civil Defense Department, Col. Gen. Kim Rak Gyom (SRFC), colonel general, corps command, critical infrastructure, DPRK Cabinet, DPRK External Relations, DPRK General Department of Atomic Energy, DPRK Intelligence Community, DPRK-United Nations Relations, east sea command, Financial Planning Department, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, General Affairs, gsd, gsob, Guard Command, Hong Sung Mu, Hwang Pyong So (GPD; KPA VMAR), International Department, Kilchu County, KJI Personal Secretariat, Korean People's Army (KPA), Korean People's Army Supreme Command, Korean People's Internal Security Forces, Korean Workers' Party (KWP), KPA construction battalions, KPA construction brigades, KPA East Command Zone, KPA General Political Bureau, KPA General Political Department, KPA General Staff, KPA General Staff Nuclear Chemical Bureau, KPA Large Combined Units, KPA Strategic Rocket Force Command, KPA supernumerary organizations, KWP Science and Education Department, Machine Building Industry Department, military security command [msc], Minister of People's Security/KPISF construction units, Ministry of Extractive Industries, Ministry of Metal Industry, ministry of people's security, Ministry of People's Security engineering units, Ministry of State Security, Ministry of the People's Armed Forces (MPAF), MPAF GPB, National Academy of Defense Sciences, National Defense Commission (NDC), NDC Administration Department, NDC Policy Department, North Hamgyo'ng Province, nuclear weapons, O Kuk Ryol, O Kuk-yol, Organization and Guidance Department, Pak To Chun, Political Bureau, Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, Second Economic Committee, Second Economy Commission, Secretariat, Six Party Talks, State Academy of Sciences, State Planning Commission (SPC), State Science and Technology Commission, State Security Department, Third Floor, transportation, tunnel construction, VMar Hyon Chol Hae, VMar Kim Yong Chun.

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