North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site showing 'significant tunneling' activity

President Donald Trump speaks during a prison reform roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the Washington Thursday Jan. 11 2018

N. Korea fears war with US

Trump has mocked Kim's weight and called him "little rocket man" in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

Trump claimed credit Wednesday for the inter-Korean dialogue, saying North Korea was feeling the pressure of a USA -led campaign of sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile development.

Asked whether he has spoken with the North Korean leader, Trump told the newspaper: "I don't want to comment on it".

President Donald Trump claims he probably has a "good relationship" with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, although the only apparent interaction the two have ever had is an exchange of taunts and insults.

South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with the North after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. "The difference is I'm president, other people aren't. I think you people are surprised".

Trump's comments come days after representatives from North and South Korea held day-long negotiations in the demilitarized zone, where Pyongyang agreed to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics and to hold talks with Seoul to ease military tensions. Recently, he mocked Kim's New Year's address, in which the young despot said he had installed a nuclear button on his desk to order a strike against the U.S.

In recent days, in a series of media leaks, USA officials have spoken of the president's willingness to consider a limited preemptive strike on North Korea to change Kim's mindset, despite the risk of touching off a war.

In October, Japan's Asahi TV reported that as many as 200 North Korean workers may have been killed in a tunnel collapse at the nuclear test site.

The recent activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site comes on the heels of North and South Korean negotiators meeting Tuesday at the Demilitarized Zone. It has, however, retained back-channel communications through the North's diplomatic mission at the United Nations in NY.

However, Zhao Tong, a North Korea expert at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing, said China's attitude might change if North Korea launched a nuclear-tipped ICBM into the Pacific Ocean or fired missiles toward Guam.

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