North Korea's nuclear test site has been preoccupied with volleyball, not missiles, according to satellite images released on Wednesday that showed three games being played in different places around what's become an worldwide center of attention.
North Korea's deputy United Nations ambassador Kim In Ryong told a news conference that "if the U.S. dares opt for a military action", North Korea "is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US".
Kim spoke on a day that US Vice President Mike Pence travelled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the US and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over".
South Korea's Air Force Operations Command and the U.S. Forces Korea's Seventh Air Force have been staging a massive joint exercise dubbed Max Thunder since April 14, an Air Force spokesman here said.More news: European Union divided on Britain's election announcement
"While strongly suggestive of the completion of preparations for a sixth nuclear test, the imagery alone does not provide any definitive evidence of the installation of a nuclear device or indication of the specific timing for such an event", Bermudez told Mashable. But they could mean that Pyongyang's plan have gone nuclear into "standby mode".
A probable volleyball game in the main administrative area.
Volleyball is a popular sport in North Korea, and satellite imagery often shows games being played, the 38 North report adds. When the research team took a look at the site Sunday, they found North Koreans playing volleyball.
38 North published images dated April 19th showing what appear to be trailers near the portal of one of the site's test tunnels.More news: Kevin Chappell Overcomes Windy Conditions and Takes Lead at Valero Texas Open
South Korean and United States officials and 38 North have been saying for weeks that North Korea could test a bomb at any time and speculation was rife that it could coincide with celebrations last Saturday to mark the 105th birthday of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung.
If the North tests another nuclear device, it would be a major show of defiance by Kim Jong Un, coming after President Donald Trump's repeated warnings against his country.
"The ultimate choice as to whether to test, or not to test, rests exclusively in the hands of Kim Jong-un", Bermudez said.More news: Trump to hold rally on night of White House Correspondents Dinner