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Increase in activity reported at North Korean nuclear test site

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has increased activity at its main underground nuclear test site, digging new tunnel entrances in what could be preparations for another nuclear test, a Washington-based research institute reported Thursday.

The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, which based its conclusion on analysis of commercial satellite images of the site in Punggye-ri in northeastern North Korea, said there was no sign that a test was imminent.

The report came a day after North Korea’s Foreign Ministry reaffirmed that the isolated country would continue to expand its nuclear arsenal, despite warnings from the United States that it will not engage in the dialogue that Pyongyang is seeking until the North moves toward denuclearization.

North Korea is believed to have recently restarted a reactor at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, which would revive the country’s main source of fuel for nuclear weapons, plutonium. Pyongyang is also believed to be expanding its uranium enrichment capabilities, which would provide it with an alternative fuel source for nuclear arms.

—Choe Sang-Hu

Tunisian protests delay talks on constitution

CAIRO — Deadly violence and street protests in Tunisia on Wednesday postponed talks intended to end a political standoff that had thwarted completion of a new constitution in the birthplace of, and a relative bright spot in, the Arab Spring revolts.

The Tunisian talks, called “the national dialogue,” have captivated the Arab world with the hope that in at least one country an Islamic party and its more secular rivals might overcome the mutual distrust and antipathy that have bogged down steps toward democracy in Egypt, Libya, Syria and elsewhere in the region.

But Wednesday, the second anniversary of Tunisia’s first free election, the promise appeared to have slipped away again with attacks from two fronts on the moderate Islamist governing party, from militant hard-liners on one side and secular political factions on the other.

Islamist militants in Sidi Bouzid, an interior province, killed at least six security officers Wednesday and wounded several others, apparently in an attempt to disrupt the reconciliation between the moderate Islamist governing party and its more secular opponents. At least two militants were killed in the fighting, the state news agency said.

—David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

Youtube said to introduce paid music service

YouTube will soon unveil a paid subscription service for music that will compete with outlets like Spotify, according to several people briefed on the company’s plans.

YouTube, a division of Google, plans to introduce it by the end of the year, perhaps as early as next month, these people said. Subscriptions, at about $10 a month, would be tailored to mobile devices and give users access to YouTube’s vast catalog of music videos without interruptions from advertising. The service will also let customers temporarily store videos on their smartphones and tablets to watch offline, according to these people, who were not authorized to discuss the service publicly.

YouTube declined to comment directly on its plans, but said in a statement: “We’re always working on new and better ways for people to enjoy YouTube content across all screens, and on giving partners more opportunities to reach their fans. However, we have nothing to announce at this time.”

—Ben Sisario, The New York Times