North Korea on Saturday repeated warnings that it was resolved to carry out a nuclear test, the Associated Press reported.
The Rodong Sinmun newspaper -- a propaganda arm of the Kim Jong Un regime -- said the government had "clarified its resolute stand that it would take countermeasures including [a] nuclear test to protect the sovereignty and dignity of the" nation.
Pyongyang made repeated threats this year to carry out a fourth nuclear test -- an action that outside experts say could advance the country's progress toward wielding a miniaturized warhead capable of delivery by ballistic missile.
Commercial satellite photographs of the North's Punggye-ri test site taken on Friday showed continued work at the testing grounds, including the movement of objects resembling trucks and containers at the "South Portal" area, the Institute for Science and International Security said in an image analysis. Additionally, "a new large object -- possibly a cover -- is clearly visible at the West Portal," according to the report.
Report authors David Albright, Serena Kelleher-Vergantini and Priscilla Kim concluded that the most recently detected activities did not mesh with media reports that an underground atomic blast is coming in the immediate future. "The exact timing of a test or tests is difficult to construe from the ongoing activity," the authors said.
Meanwhile, officials from Japan, South Korea and the United States might sign a trilateral memorandum on intelligence sharing later this month, the Korea Herald reported. Washington already has bilateral intelligence exchange agreements with Tokyo and Seoul but the two Asian democracies do not have a similar arrangement with one another.
The top defense officials from the three countries are slated to attend the yearly Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, set to begin on May 30. The trilateral talks are expected to take place on the margins of the conference, South Korean officials said.
The United States has pushed South Korea to agree to share intelligence with Japan on nuclear and ballistic missile threats emanating from North Korea. Seoul previously balked at the prospect due to perceptions that Tokyo was backing away from previous statements of remorse for its actions during World War II. However, President Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye agreed in April to work toward greater regional intelligence cooperation.