North Korea appears to be preparing to conduct a nuclear test in a show of defiance towards United States President Donald Trump, who has not ruled out military action to pressurise the regime into abandoning its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
The U.S.-based monitoring group 38 North on Thursday said that the satellite images from the North's Punggye-ri site showed it was "primed and ready" for what would be the country's sixth nuclear test since 2006, The Guardian reports.
"Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the Main Administrative Area, and a few personnel around the site's Command Center," 38 North said on its website.
"In the courtyards of the main administrative area are approximately 11 probable tarp-covered pallets of equipment or supplies, a formation of personnel, and several individuals walking about," the site added.
South Korean officials, however, have played down speculation that a nuclear test was imminent.