December 13, 2017 11:42
North Korea's missile scientists gathered at a conference in Pyongyang on Monday where the North announced it will bolster its nuclear force.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency said the 8th Conference of Munitions Industry opened in Pyongyang on Monday to review the achievements of the industry and to discuss "measures for ushering in a heyday" of the defense industry.
A Unification Ministry official here said, "The conference may be billed as the eighth, but this is actually the first time North Korea has officially convened such an event."
Meanwhile, signs have been detected that the North is preparing another nuclear test and test launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile. Frank Pabian, an analyst at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, told the website 38 North at Johns Hopkins University that there has been a "consistently high level of activity" at the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri.
Pabian analyzed satellite photos and identified vehicles and workers as well as mounds of dirt which "suggest that tunnel excavation is underway at the West Portal." North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests at the North Portal but apparently stopped using that shaft after a tunnel caved in.
Japan's Tokyo Shimbun daily has reported that there is a possibility of North Korea launching a prototype of the Pukguksong-3 SLBM, which has a longer range than the Pukguksong-1.
Asked about the possibility of another SLBM launch by North Korea, the U.S. Defense Department said Monday it is "closely monitoring" the latest developments in the North.
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