By Jeremy Herb - 04/09/12 03:57 PM EDT
South Korean intelligence officials are sharing satellite images that show North Korea apparently preparing for its third nuclear test, The Associated Press reported.
The satellite images show North Korea is digging a new underground tunnel at the same site it conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, and the excavation is in its final stages, according to the AP.
"North Korea is covertly preparing for a third nuclear test, which would be another grave provocation," said the South Korean intelligence report obtained by the AP, which cited U.S. commercial satellite photos taken April 1.
The potential nuclear test comes amid a planned long-range rocket launch this month, which North Korea says is being used to launch a satellite and honor the 100th anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung’s birth.
But the United States and others have urged North Korea to cancel the launch, as they say it would violate United Nations resolutions and is being used to test long-range missile technology.
Both incidents could nix a deal that the United States and North Korea reached in February in which the State Department agreed to provide 240,000 pounds of food aid and Pyongyang agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests.