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North Korea: What Do Volleyball Games at Nuclear Test Site Mean?
20 April 2017, 07:10 | Erica Roy
Pentagon to test ability to shoot down North Korean missiles
USA experts who analyse satellite images from North Korea say they have seen unusual activity at the country's nuclear site: volleyball games.
"It suggests that the facility might be going into a standby mode", said Joseph Bermudez, a veteran North Korea analyst, during a conference call organized by the John Hopkins University think tank 38 North, the New York Timesreported.
United States 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.
However, the exact status of the site was unclear. North Korea says it has already conducted five successful nuclear tests - in 2006, 2009, 2013 and in January and September 2016.
The analysts gave two possible reasons for the unexpected activity at the Punggye-ri test site: either preparations had been put on "stand-by", or this was part of a "deception plan" by the government.
At a time of remarkable tensions over Pyongyang's weapons program, satellite images of North Korea appeared to capture images of multiple volleyball games being played at the country's main nuclear testing site. However, the launch went ahead regardless the next day.
The North Korea monitoring website 38 North, however, released a report on Wednesday saying it had seen "little activity" at the site.
James Hoare, an associate fellow at Chatham House, and a research associate for the department of Korean Studies at SOAS, tellsNewsweek: "Even in North Korea people have time off".
It also tests operational readiness in the event of an actual provocation by the North, added the source.
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