FILE - In this Dec. 21, 2012 file image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at a banquet for rocket scientists in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea's top governing body warned Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013 that the regime will conduct its third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. punishment, and made clear that its long-range rockets are designed to carry not only satellites but also warheads aimed at striking the United States. The National Defense Commission, headed by the country's young leader, rejected Tuesday's U.N. Security Council resolution condemning North Korea's long-range rocket launch in December as a banned missile activity and expanding sanctions against the regime. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video, File) NORTH KOREA OUT
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A U.S. research institute says recent satellite photos show North Korea could be almost ready to carry out its threat to conduct a nuclear test.
The images of the Punggye-ri site, where nuclear tests were conducted in 2006 and 2009, reveal that over the past month, roads have been kept clear of snow and possible steps taken to seal the tunnel into a mountainside where a nuclear device would be detonated.
But it remains difficult to discern North Korea's true intentions, as a test would be conducted underground.
The analysis was provided to The Associated Press Friday by 38 North, the website of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The latest image was taken Wednesday.
Pyongyang declared its plans Thursday.