Satellite imagery shows new construction at North Korea’s nuclear test site

Construction has been observed at North Korea’s nuclear testing site for the first time since 2018, according to satellite imagery taken on Friday.

The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) said in a report that it had observed early signs of activity at the Punggye-ri site in North Korea, including the construction of a new building, the repair of another and some lumber and sawdust, according to Reuters.

“The construction and repair work indicate that North Korea has made some decision about the status of the test site,” the center’s report read.

The Punggye-ri has been closed since 2018 when North Korean declared a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons tests.

“One possibility is that North Korea plans to bring the test site back to a state of readiness to resume nuclear explosive testing,” according to the James Martin Center.

“How long it would take North Korea to resume explosive testing at the site depends on the extent of the damage to the tunnels themselves, something we do not know with confidence,” it continued. 

Analysts of the report added that North Korea may resume nuclear activities at another location.

Reuters noted the report comes shortly after North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests in January. International observers have said that the country’s main nuclear reactor facility in Yongbyon appears to be fully operating.

Last week, North Korean state media confirmed that the country was performing tests necessary to create spy satellites, signaling the possibility that the country may soon be able to launch a long-range rocket. It remains unclear if North Korea has a camera with a high enough resolution for spying capabilities.

News of these tests comes shortly before South Korea is set to elect a new president on Wednesday.

Tags North Korea North Korea and weapons of mass destruction Nuclear proliferation Nuclear weapons testing Punggye-ri Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site Underground nuclear weapons testing

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