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Nordkorea Atomanlage Punggye-ri Amid concerns that Pyongyang may conduct a nuclear test to mark the 70th anniversary of the ruling party, US analysts say the have spotted a greater number of trucks and excavation activity at the Punggye-ri test site.
The rumors have been fueled by Pyongyang's announcement on September 15 that it restarted the long-mothballed Yongbyon reactor - capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium - and was working to improve the "quality and quantity" of weapons which it could use against the United States at "any time."
The regime added that it reserved the "legitimate right of a sovereign state" to carry out the launch of a rocket to put a satellite into orbit, a move US officials see as a potential test for ballistic missile technology.
In fact, new research suggests the North Koreans may be moving towards that goal. Analysts at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies recently detected new activity at North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site, the location of Pyongyang's previous three nuclear detonations.
Basing their findings on recent commercial satellite photos, the latest taken on Monday, the researchers noticed an unusually large number of vehicles, camouflage netting - usually used to conceal activities from overhead scrutiny - and erosion control and excavation being conducted at the site.
The purpose of such activities, however, remains unclear at this point, as they could be related to anything from maintenance work to preparations for another nuclear test, said the report published on the institute's website, 38 North, on September 24.