12/22/2006, 00.00
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Seoul denounces suspected nuclear activity in North Korea

An opposition MP reported frenetic activity in a tunnel near Mount Mantap, where the regime carried out its first nuclear test on 9 October. In Beijing, six-party talks on nuclear disarmament have been fruitless.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Suspicious activities have been noticed in a remote area of North Korea, the same place where the regime carried out its first nuclear test on 9 October, a South Korean MP said yesterday.


Chung Hyung-keun, of the opposition Grand National Party, was speaking during a meeting with national party leaders. “Since the beginning of this month, there has been very hectic activity at a tunnel near Mount Mantap in Punggyeri.”

The area, 350km northeast of Pyongyang, is the place where the regime carried out its first nuclear test in early October 2006.


Chung continued: “Engineering works have been under way on a large scale there. Western intelligence authorities regard it as a possible site for a second nuclear test.”


The MP’s comments came as six-party talks in Beijing on Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament wound up without bearing any fruit. The talks, boycotted by North Korea for more than a year, aim to convince Pyongyang, in a pacific manner, to give up its nuclear programme and to dismantle operational reactors.


The US envoy at the talks, Christopher Hill, said Korean and US negotiators were working together to implement the joint agreement signed by the six powers – China, Russia, Japan, United States and the two Koreas – in September 2005. This promised humanitarian aid to North Korea and political assurances in return for nuclear disarmament.


But a Seoul official present at the talks said North Korea “was refusing negotiations without concessions on the US freeze of North Korean accounts at Macao’s banks”. Washington holds that the accounts were used for counterfeiting US currency and money laundering.

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