North Korea prepares for nuclear tests, evades sanctions over weapons fight

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A new draft report from the UN reveals that North Korea has expanded its weapons testing facilities, indicating that the hermit kingdom plans to begin testing nuclear weapons in the near future.

The report was obtained by Japan’s Nikkei news website and included findings indicating that North Korea has begun digging new tunnels at the Punggye-ri test site, which could allow the government to “use additional nuclear tests for the development of nuclear weapons”. to carry out.

The report covers the first half of 2022 and also describes how North Korea has managed to evade sanctions and continue to fund its activities. The United Nations Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Committee will discuss the findings before releasing the report.

Based on the findings of the report, the committee may choose to take additional measures, including further sanctions.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the UN General Assembly Monday at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, claiming that Pyongyang is “preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test”.

“The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues to expand its illegal nuclear program and continues its ongoing provocations against the region,” he said.

Pyongyang responded on Wednesday with a statement labeling Blinken’s comments as “confrontational yelling at the DPRK”.

“Long ago, the DPRK withdrew from the NPT through the legitimate procedure under the relevant article enshrined in the NPT,” officials wrote. “Accordingly, no one has the right or justification to accuse the DPRK, a nuclear-weapon-owned state outside the NPT, of exercising the right of self-defense.”

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North Korea accused the US of trying to “undermine the foundations of the non-proliferation regime” and “being determined to deal with nuclear threats and blackmail against sovereign states”.

“The United States itself would not deny the fact that it transferred the technology of a nuclear-powered submarine to Australia and conspired to patronize Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons,” the statement continued. “It is the culmination of press accusation that the United States is claiming one’s ‘nuclear threats’, given that it is the hub of nuclear proliferation that has historically and systematically violated its obligations under the treaty article after article and undermining international peace and regional security. .”

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North and South Korea have claimed Pyongyang can conduct a nuclear test “when it wants”, but the hermit kingdom continues to face hurdles — the most significant of which is a new outbreak of COVID-19 that began in May.

Although satellite images of the nuclear site at Punggye-ri in the north indicate that Pyongyang nuclear site tunnel 3 is steadily recovering, no public comments or reports about the nuclear test have been made.

North Korea’s sixth and currently final nuclear test took place in 2017. The hydrogen bomb test triggered a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, and North Korea claimed the test was a “perfect success.”

The UN Security Council is expected to meet in closed session later this month to discuss the sanctions report.

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