SEOUL, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) — South Korea is worried about further nuclear and missile provocations from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which Seoul estimates have prepared for another nuclear test and the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Yonhap news agency reported Wednesday citing multiple South Korean government sources.
The DPRK has reportedly covered entrances to two tunnels with large camouflage nets at its main Punggye-ri nuclear test site, an indication which South Korea sees as preparations for a nuclear test in the near future.
The nets have been put up over the entrance to the No.2 tunnel, where Pyongyang conducted its fifth nuclear detonation on Sept. 9, as well as over the entrance to the No.3 tunnel in which the DPRK is highly likely to carry out its next nuclear test.
Seoul's defense ministry said earlier that the DPRK already completed preparations for another nuclear test, which can be carried out at any time at a branch of the No. 2 tunnel or at the No. 3 tunnel.
A South Korean government source was quoted as saying that situations around the No. 2 and No. 3 tunnels in the Punggye-ri nuclear test site where the DPRK has conducted all of its nuclear detonations are identical to those observed right before the fifth nuclear test.
The DPRK's first nuclear test was conducted at the No.1 tunnel in 2006, while the second, third and fourth tests were carried out at the No. 2 tunnel in 2009, 2013 and 2016 each. The fifth test was conducted in a place some 400 meters away from the No. 2 tunnel.
Meanwhile, the DPRK's KCNA news agency said Tuesday that top leader Kim Jong Un had guided a new engine jet test of a carrier rocket for geo-stationary satellite, which South Korea sees as a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The new DPRK rocket was assessed by South Korean authorities as a variant of a long-range Taepodong missile.
Another South Korean government source was quoted as saying that possibility is high for Pyongyang to conduct the sixth nuclear test or launch an ICBM at or around the 71st anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) on Oct. 10.
Pyongyang launched a Taepodong-1 with an estimated range of 2, 500 km in Aug. 1998 and a Taepodong-2 with an estimated range of 10,000 km in July 2006, but Seoul assessed both launches had failed.
In February this year, the DPRK launched a Kwangmyongsong rocket to deliver a Kwangmyongsong-4 Earth observation satellite into orbit, which was seen by South Korea as a success.
The three-stage Unha-3 rocket, which Pyongyang blasted off in Dec. 2012 to deliver a Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite into space, was also assessed as a successful launch.
In April 2012 and in the same month of 2009, the DPRK launched Kwangmyongsong satellites, but many countries such as South Korea, the United States and Russia claimed they were failures.