North Korea's nuclear test site showed no visible movements after heightened activity for several days in a sudden change that could mean either test preparations are done or Pyongyang is trying to deceive the world, according to 38 North.
Satellite imagery from March 29 showed "considerably less" activity at the North's Punggye-ri test site, a day after up to 100 people were spotted in the courtyard of the main administrative area, said the website of a US research institute.
"No vehicles or trailers are readily visible anymore, which suggests that whatever was underway over the past four days is either done or the nature of it has changed," it said. "If the activity was test related, it would suggest that preparations are complete and that a test could occur at any time."
However, 38 North called for "great caution" saying Pyongyang clearly understands that "the world is watching and is undoubtedly, at some level, attempting to manipulate reporting about developments at Punggye-ri". The main administrative area showed "the greatest change over the past couple days", it said
On Thursday, the South's joint chiefs of staff warned that North Korea could carry out a different type of nuclear test. North Korea watchers talk about a "Pakistan-type" test of blasting several bombs simultaneously, including a "boosted fission" bomb for the development of a hydrogen bomb.
In an earlier article, 38 North said Pyongyang was excavating a tunnel supporting its strongest ever detonation. In its previous test, Pyongyang claimed to have conducted a successful nuclear warhead explosion test aimed at acquiring technology for the production of diversified and miniaturized nuclear warheads to be carried by strategic missiles.
North Korea's nuclear and long-range rocket tests triggered tough UN sanctions but leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to step up the development of atomic bombs and rockets capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Lim Chang-won = firstname.lastname@example.org