According to the United Nations, North Korea is preparing for its first nuclear test since 2017. Most recently, construction work was observed at an underground test facility in the north of the country: "The work at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site paves the way for further nuclear tests for the development of nuclear weapons," said a previously confidential UN expert report by the German Press Agency existed in parts.
Satellite images indicated that North Korea was repairing its tunnel network in Punggye-ri and rebuilding buildings on the site that were demolished in 2018 during negotiations with the United States. Fissile material production capacity at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility has also been ramped up, according to the UN report covering the period in recent months.
For months, observers have feared that after numerous missile tests, ruler Kim Jong Un's first nuclear test in almost five years could be imminent. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had already referred to activities in Punggye-ri in June. North Korea conducted six test blasts there between 2006 and 2017.