N. Korea May Be Prepping Twin Nuke Tests

Satellite images show pair of completed tunnels

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 4, 2013 7:10 AM CST | Updated Feb 4, 2013 7:53 AM CST

(Newser) – New intelligence reports suggest North Korea is planning not one, but two nuclear tests in the near future. Satellite images show activity at two tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, with preparations apparently completed at both, a South Korean government source tells the Chosun Ilbo. "There is a chance that the southern tunnel is a decoy, but we aren't ruling out that the regime will conduct nuclear tests simultaneously" or in rapid succession, says a military source. Carrying out multiple, quick tests could help Pyongyang to produce smaller nuclear warheads, as Pakistan did in 1998.

Yonhap News has details on the tunnel North Korea used for a 2009 nuclear test; it refers to an "elaborate design" that kept radioactivity and debris from being released. Meanwhile, the AP reports that Kim Jong Un held a high-level Workers' Party meeting over the weekend, and issued new guidelines for defending North Korea's sovereignty and strengthening its army—which experts believe signals that a test is imminent. Official state media called the meeting "historic" and Kim's guidelines "important." Commanding officers of the navy, air force, and strategic rocket force attended, Yonhap News reports. And a completely random aside: In case you were wondering what kind of phone Kim uses, Focus Taiwan reports that based on a recent picture of the leader, it's an HTC smartphone. (Click to read about the South Korea-US naval drills held today.)

In this undated photo distributed Feb. 3, 2013, Kim Jong Un attends an enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea at an undisclosed location in North Korea.
In this undated photo distributed Feb. 3, 2013, Kim Jong Un attends an enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea at an undisclosed location in North Korea.   (AP Photo/Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service)
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