North Korean officials tried to ease tensions over its upcoming rocket launch by opening its launch pad on Sunday to the international press. It didn't work. The goal was to demonstrate that the launch of a satellite, scheduled to liftoff as early as Thursday, is purely for scientific purposes and not, as many analysts believe, a ruse for testing its ballistic missile technology. But, as of Monday morning, the outward signs of tensions from its neighbors and even chief ally China have only increased. So much for the open house.
This morning, South Korean officials charged that the upcoming launch is actually prequel to a nuclear test, The Washington Post reports. The officials cited a new report detailing satellite imagery of dirt that would be used to fill a tunnel prior to an underground nuclear test. “The effort is believed to be in its final stages,” said the report by Seoul's intelligence agency. “The soil around the tunnel’s entrance appeared to have been brought in from another region and has been growing in amount since March.” The report says the gathering of dirt indicates the North is "on its way to another grave provocation, which, if true, The Post says would match previous displays of brinkmanship by Pyongyang in 2006 and 2009 in which launches were followed by nuclear tests.