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North Korea steps up tunnelling at nuclear test site: Monitor

14 January 2018, 12:23 | Marta Robbins

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday (Jan 11) he "probably" has a very good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a change in tone for Trump after exchanging insults with Kim over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes. "I think you people are surprised".

The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month have always been overshadowed by geopolitical tensions, with the North repeatedly test-firing missiles it says are capable of reaching the United States mainland, and detonating its most powerful nuclear device to date.

There's a significant amount of tunneling activity at North Korea's nuclear testing site, commercial satellite images show, suggesting the area is being prepped for a future nuclear test, according to a report from 38 North, a website dedicated to analyzing the rogue state.

Asked whether he has spoken with the North Korean leader, Trump told the newspaper: "I don't want to comment on it". Kim has dismissed Trump as a "dotard" and "frightened dog" in public statements.

Earlier, he also claimed credit for restarting the inter-Korean peace talks, tweeting: "With all of the failed "experts" weighing in, does anybody really believe that talks and dialogue would be going on between North and South Korea right now if I wasn't firm, strong and willing to commit our total "might" against the North. Fools, but talks are a good thing!"

Despite the name-calling, there is recent evidence of a thaw between the two adversaries.

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"He is already a shrewd and mature politician", Putin said.

But Pyongyang - which boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul - agreed Tuesday to send athletes and officials to the Games as the North and South held their first formal talks in two years at Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone.

"A lot of good talks are going on now".

White House spokespeople didn't immediately respond to questions about whether Trump and Kim had spoken.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has "won this match" in the contest to acquire nuclear weapons.

The North Korea monitoring site said on Thursday that throughout December 2017, there were "mining carts and personnel" as well as what appeared to be a "spoil pile" that had been greatly expanded at the test facility's west portal.



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