U.S. Officials: North Korea May Be Planning 2nd Nuclear Test - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/17/06

U.S. Officials: North Korea May Be Planning 2nd Nuclear Test

North Korea may be preparing to conduct a second nuclear test, a U.S. official with access to intelligence information said Tuesday.

The official says that activity at a second nuclear site in North Korea is looking very similar to activity seen at another site just before the October 9 nuclear test.

The official said buildings and other structures are being fabricated at this second site, possibly in an effort to hide activities from spy satellites.

"It would not be unreasonable to assume the North Koreans are planning a second test," White House press secretary Tony Snow said Tuesday.

The intelligence official said there were also reports of statements from senior North Korean military officials saying that the government intended to conduct multiple tests.

Activity was also being seen at the site of the confirmed nuclear test, the official said. It is not clear if that activity is cleanup, maintenance or just wrapping up the testing there.

Earlier, government officials in South Korea and Japan said intelligence information pointed to a possible second test.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said in Seoul, South Korea, that another test of a nuclear device would be regarded as North Korea thumbing its nose at the world.

"I think we will all regard a second test as a very belligerent answer on North Korea's part to the international community, and I think the international community will have no choice but to respond very clearly to the DPRK [North Korea] on this," Hill said as he left talks with South Korea's top nuclear envoy.

Pyongyang on Tuesday called the United Nations sanctions resolution approved after the first test a "declaration of war."

North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency that the country wanted "peace but is not afraid of war."

The U.N. Security Council resolution "cannot be construed otherwise than a declaration of a war against the DPRK [North Korea] because it was based on the scenario of the U.S. keen to destroy the socialist system," according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman quoted by KCNA.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday the Korean peninsula could still become a nuclear-free area.

"We have no desire to see this crisis escalate," Rice said. "In fact, it is our goal to see a de-escalation of this, despite North Korea's actions. But North Korea now needs to understand that the international community has spoken.

"The international community has said that it is unacceptable for North Korea to have a nuclear program, that denuclearization of the Korean peninsula remains the goal of the international community."

The secretary's comments were made en route to East Asia.

China to inspect shipments

Rice is traveling to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing to consult with leaders in those capitals in a drive to persuade them to strictly enforce the U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang approved unanimously by the Security Council.

Earlier in the day, Chinese U.N. ambassador Wang Guangya said his country would inspect cargo bound for and coming out of North Korea. That contradicts statements he made Saturday, hours after the resolution passed, that his country would find it politically difficult to conduct such inspections. China is North Korea's biggest trading partner.

"But inspections is different from interception and interdiction," he clarified Monday. "I think in that area that different countries will do it in different ways."

Nicholas Burns, undersecretary for political affairs, said the United States had received reports that Chinese officials were inspecting cargo in trucks along its 800-mile border with North Korea on Monday.

Burns said Australia also announced that it was barring North Korean ships from its ports, and Japan was mulling further measures.

The Security Council resolution, which passed by a vote of 15-0 Sunday, was in response to North Korea's claim that it had tested a nuclear device last week.

The measure forbids trade between U.N. member states and North Korea in material that may be used for nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and high-end military equipment. It requires Pyongyang not to conduct further nuclear tests or launch ballistic missiles, and it demands that the country abandon all weapons of mass destruction programs.

The resolution also includes a ban on "trade and luxury goods," requires member states to freeze the assets of North Korean entities and individuals, and calls for inspections of cargo traveling from and to North Korea to search for items that may be used in a nuclear or other WMD program.

Burns said the measure has "real teeth."

"These are very tough sanctions, they're among the toughest ever imposed on any country by the United Nations," he said. "And we hope they will convince the North Koreans to recalculate the cost and benefits of what they're trying to do, developing a nuclear weapons program."

U.S. confirms test

An analysis of air samples collected shortly after North Korea declared it had conducted the test confirms it took place, according to the office of the U.S. director of national intelligence.

The analysis detected radioactive debris, indicating the explosive yield was less than one kiloton, said a statement from John Negroponte's office. That is relatively small for a nuclear test.

The first air sample collected after Pyongyang's announcement last week contained no radioactive debris, but a second one did.

CNN's Barbara Starr and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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