North Korea preparing for 3rd nuclear test

North Korea agreed in Feb to suspend uranium enrichment, as well as missile tests in return for US food aid.

Moscow: North Korea is preparing for a third underground nuclear test, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Sunday.

"North Korea is making clandestine preparations for a third nuclear test at Punggye-ri in North Hamkyong Province, where it conducted two nuclear tests in the past," the agency quoted an intelligence official as saying on condition of anonymity.

Satellite images show the reclusive communist regime digging a new tunnel underground in the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the country`s northeast, where it conducted two previous nuclear tests, first in 2006 and then in 2009.

The construction is believed to be in its final stage, the intelligence official told the agency.

North Korea, which withdrew from the six-party disarmament talks on its nuclear programme three years ago, agreed in February to suspend uranium enrichment, as well as nuclear and long-range missile tests in return for US food aid, opening the way for the restart of negotiations.

In March, however, North Korea announced plans to launch an earth observation to mark the 100th birthday of its late founding leader Kim Il-sung in April.

The move is seen as a violation of a UN Security Council resolution and has drawn international condemnation. The US and other countries suspect that the launch is a thinly veiled ballistic missile test.