North Korea: The academic group 38 North published an update on North Korean activity at the nuclear test site in northeastern North Korea. The imagery is dated 23 April. The analysts at 38 North judge that increased vehicle activity near test tunnels and the presence of command and control vehicles at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site are probably preparations for a detonation.
Comment: The similarity of the latest activity with that prior to the February 2013 nuclear test supports the judgment that test preparations are in progress. The timing for a test cannot be determined based on the latest imagery.
Pakistan: Tension is high between the Pakistan Army and the government and the press over the treason trial against former chief of army staff and president Musharraf.
A prominent journalist and TV talk show host, Hamid Mir who has been critical of the Army, barely survived an assassination attempt from a drive-by shooting in Islamabad on 19 April. His brother, also a journalist, blamed the attack on Pakistan's Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) and claims to have proof.
In retaliation, the Army has banned at all military posts the TV station owned by the journalist's employer, which owns The News and Geo TV. In addition, Chief of Army Staff General Rahid Sharif visited ISI headquarters yesterday in a show of solidarity against any entity that would impugn the dignity of the Army. The Army leadership reportedly was upset that the Nawaz Sharif government did not defend the ISI against the press accusation.
Pakistani media features reputable commentaries that blame the government for provoking the Army by continuing the treason suit and the media for criticizing the Army; other op ed pieces advise the government to make peace with the Army by letting Musharraf travel abroad; and still other authoritative opinions that insist that the Army is not above the law.
Comment: The political atmosphere is charged. Former Chief of Army Staff General Kayani kept Army sentiment in check through his public commitment to civilian government and his refusal to comment on the charges against Musharraf, his former boss. General Sharif does not share Kayani's sensibilities.