New Satellite Photos Show Construction at Dismantled North Korea Nuclear Test Site for the First Time Since 2018

North Korea appears to have begun construction at a dismantled nuclear test site for the first time in years, new satellite images showed.

According to analysts, the photos taken on March 4 by commercial satellite firm Maxar showed “very early signs of activity” at the Punggye-ri site, which was shut down in 2018 with some parts blown up.

“These activities are very preliminary. One aspect of having so many commercial satellites in orbit is that we often catch construction activities in their very early stages, when it is difficult to conclude what precisely is being built or why.  However, this is the first activity we have seen at the site since North Korea dismantled it in May 2018,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies said on March 7.

Lewis, who has been monitoring the North Korean nuclear program for years, said the recent activities include construction of a new building and repair of another building.

However, Lewis said that the test site “is many months, if not years, from being ready for North Korea to conduct nuclear explosions there.”

North Korea may resume nuclear testing at another location, Lewis said.

The analysis came months after North Korea announced in a statement that it would “make an overall reconsideration of the confidence-building measures that we have taken on our own initiative and on a prior basis [and] promptly examine the issue of restarting all temporarily-suspended activities.”


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