Two US intelligence officials have been cited by Reuters as saying on condition of anonymity that North Korea may reopen its test site, which was seriously hit by the test-launching of what Pyongyang claimed was a hydrogen bomb.
The officials pointed out that "there is no reason to conclude that the Punggye-ri test site is no longer functional" despite "some minor geological disturbances" which were caused by the test.
They suggested that the test site may be reactivated "in a relatively short period of time," but added that if Pyongyang delivers on its promise to halt nuclear tests, "it will be possible to ascertain with existing monitoring whether it is being put out of commission permanently or merely closed."
The remarks came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared earlier this month that Pyongyang would suspend ballistic missile and nuclear weapons testing.Pyongyang pledged to dismantle the Punggye-ri test site, in a move that came ahead of a historic summit between Kim and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the border truce village of Panmunjom, where the two agreed to move to fulfill pledge for "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.
All six North Korean nuclear tests were conducted at the Punggye-ri site in the country's northeast, which includes tunnel networks located below Mount Mantap. The test site reportedly became geologically unusable for future tests after last September's detonation of the alleged hydrogen bomb.