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Fresh concerns over NK nuke site activities

Global Times (2013-10-25 P02)
By Xinhua – AFP
China on Thursday responded to a North Korean statement giving conditions for nuclear disarmament by saying that Pyongyang's reasonable concerns should be addressed in order to properly settle the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the parties concerned should seek a comprehensive approach to solve the nuclear deadlock, address both the symptoms and root causes, and resolve concerns, including those of North Korea, in a balanced way.

The North said Wednesday that it would not unilaterally dismantle its nuclear deterrence unless outside nuclear threats were removed.

Meanwhile, a US think tank said Wednesday that North Korea has built two tunnel entrances at its nuclear test site in a sign it plans more detonations.

Satellite images taken on September 27 show  excavation work and the presence of two new entrances to tunnels at the Punggye-ri site, Johns Hopkins University's US-Korea Institute said.

The research group said it had no reason to suspect an imminent test but that the work showed clear intentions to advance North Korea's nuclear program.

"These ongoing activities, as well as upgrades to the site's support areas, indicate North Korea is preparing to conduct additional detonations in the future as part of its nuclear weapons development program," researcher Nick Hansen wrote on the institute's blog, 38 North.

North Korea, which conducts tests in secrecy underground, may be seeking a new tunnel for a future detonation, it said. Alternatively, it may be digging a separate entrance to a nearby tunnel to allow greater traffic or ventilation.

North Korea carried out nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and in February this year, triggering almost universal criticism from major countries and tight sanctions.

The North has said it is building its nuclear capacity in response to "hostility" from the US, which stations close to 30,000 troops in South Korea.

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