US spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea’s underground nuclear test site for the first time in several weeks, two US officials told CNN.
The activity appears to involve some modifications around one of the tunnel entrances to an underground test area.
The officials said it is not yet clear if the activity indicates a sixth nuclear test is imminent, but noted there is concern that North Korea could set off a test during Wednesday’s visit to Washington by top Chinese diplomats and military officials.
US officials have known that the site is ready to conduct an underground test for some time.
Two senior US officials with direct knowledge also told CNN that military options for North Korea have recently been updated, and will be presented to President Donald Trump for a decision to act if there is a nuclear test.
However, there is no indication whether any military response would actually happen.
US officials told CNN that if a sixth nuclear test by North Korea were to occur, it would be clear that the existing pressure by China on North Korea is not working. However, other senior US officials said the administration’s policy hinges on pressuring North Korea through China.
Trump has often cited China, North Korea’s longtime ally, as a key player in US efforts to rein in North Korea’s quest to develop long-range nuclear missiles. But the US President took to Twitter on Tuesday to offer a grim assessment of China’s role in restraining North Korea: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”
Multiple US officials told CNN they are checking on what the President meant in his latest tweet about how China’s efforts in North Korea have “not worked out.”
One Trump administration official said bluntly they didn’t know what the President was referencing when asked what the tweet meant. Another said there was no meeting earlier…