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North Korea

Recent satellite photos show that activities have resumed at North Korea’s nuclear testing site.

North Korea’s state media published a rare criticism of China on Wednesday, accusing Chinese state media commentaries of undermining its relations with Beijing and worsening current tensions on the peninsula.

“A string of absurd and reckless remarks are now heard from China every day only to render the present bad situation tenser,” a commentary by the official Korean Central News Agency, KCNA, said, referring to recent commentaries in China’s People’s Daily and Global Times newspaper.

“China had better ponder over the grave consequences to be entailed by its reckless act of chopping down the pillar of the DPRK-China relations,” the commentary added.

Chinese state media had called for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear programs due to concerns that a sixth nuclear test by North Korea would pose a danger to China’s northeast region, such as a potential nuclear leak.

It is reasonable for North Korea to pursue its own security, but its nuclear and missile ambitions have put itself and the whole region into dire peril, the People’s Daily said in a recent editorial.

Monitoring group 38 North published on Tuesday the latest images of the North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site captured on April 25. They showed workers pumping out water at a tunnel, which is believed to be prepared for an upcoming nuclear test. Several probable mining carts were also spotted on the site.

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The group pointed out that the presence of a large number of people throughout the facility is unusual, but based on satellite imagery alone “it is unclear if this activity indicates that a nuclear test has been canceled, the facility is in stand-by mode or that a test is imminent.”

The Chinese daily Global Times said in a commentary published Tuesday that the bottom line for China is that North Korea’s nuclear activities shall never affect its northeastern region.

“As nuclear weapons and missiles will combine, opposing North Korea’s nuclear and missile advancement becomes a common concern of Beijing and Washington,” it said.

As the only major ally of North Korea, China has been pressed by the U.S. to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The U.S. is negotiating with China on a possible stronger U.N. response, such as sanctions, the Reuters reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, China urged all parties to stay calm and “stop irritating each other,” a day after North Korea accused the U.S. of pushing the region to the brink of nuclear war.