James Griffiths – April 13, 2017
(CNN)North Korean monitoring service 38 North said Wednesday the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear site is “primed and ready” for a sixth nuclear test.
“The activity during the past six weeks is suggestive of the final preparations for a test,” 38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez told CNN.
Their prediction comes as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that North Korea may have the capability to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve gas.
He and other analysts pore over commercial satellite imagery of the testing site, looking for signs of activity similar to that prior to other tests.
Bermudez and his colleague Jack Liu correctly predicted the last nuclear test, in September 2016. Since late February they have been warning of increased activity at the site, particularly new equipment arriving, activity at the command center, and excavation and water pumping from entrances to the underground testing site.
James Holbrooks – March 30, 2017
Adding fuel to an already highly combustible situation in Southeast Asia, Reuters reported Tuesday that China has “largely completed major construction of military infrastructure on artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea,” and that the Asian superpower “can now deploy combat planes and other military hardware there at any time.”
Citing satellite imagery analyzed by the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative, part of Washington, D.C.’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, the news agency writes that “work on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands included naval, air, radar and defensive facilities.”
Sticking to the mainstream narrative that China is an aggressor in claiming sovereign rights to the majority of the South China Sea, Pentagon spokesman Commander Gary Ross says the new images confirm what the U.S. military already knows.
“China’s continued construction in the South China Sea is part of a growing body of evidence that they continue to take unilateral actions which are increasing tensions in the region and are counterproductive to the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he told Reuters.