Satellite images show what appears to be volleyball games being played on nuclear site
Analysis suggests that the test site is ready, or that tests have been put off for now
After readying a possible nuclear test, it seems that North Korea’s nuclear technicians are entitled to some downtime.
North Korean monitoring service 38 North says satellite images from April 16 show what appears to be “three volleyball games underway at different locations throughout” at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
The analysts say the games could indicate the test site has “transitioned to a stand-by status” and that personnel were “being allowed some downtime for recreation.”
Or, they say, it could be a “tactical pause” until leader Kim Jong Un gives his orders.
Just one week ago, the monitoring agency said the site was “primed and ready” for a sixth nuclear test.
North Korea timeline: From Trump’s inauguration until now
No change in US analysis
US military and intelligence analysis has remained the same for the last several weeks, and concludes that North Korea is ready and capable of conducting an underground nuclear test at any time. It’s unlikely to give any warning.
Volleyball is a popular sport in North Korea and the country’s women’s national team came third in the 1972 Munich Olympics – beating neighbors and rivals South Korea to the podium.
38 North notes that satellite imagery has previously captured games in progress throughout the nation.
“Personnel playing volleyball at the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility have also been identified on a number of occasions as far back as 2006 prior to the first nuclear test and more recently in February,” it said.
The agency notes that this would be the first time that three games at the same location had been recorded.
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CNN’s Barbara Starr and Mike Callahan contributed to this report.