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Volleyball games at North Korean nuke test site: Monitor

20 April 2017, 06:11 | Erica Roy

Volleyball games at North Korean nuke test site: Monitor

An unidentified rocket is displayed during a military parade marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang

USA experts who have been forecasting an imminent North Korean nuclear test say they were surprised when they viewed their latest satellite images of the country's nuclear test site and saw volleyball games under way.

Commercial satellite imagery on April 16 of the Punggye-ri test site showed what may be three volleyball games underway at different locations throughout the facility, but little activity was shown at the North Portal, where test preparations had been under way.

The US Air Force dispatched a nuclear sniffer aircraft Thursday to the east of the Korean Peninsula amid the possibility of North Korea's imminent nuclear test, a government source said.

The pictures were released by 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project at Johns Hopkins University, in Maryland. Analysts still believe the site is ready for another nuclear test at any time. Still, the games aren't new: Per the 38 North report, "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".


Bermudez said the images showed evidence of tunneling work, but there was no sign that water had been pumped out of the tunnel system where the nuclear tests take place.

Whether Thursday's flight was an operational readiness exercise or an attempt to determine whether or not the reclusive regime is experimenting with nuclear weaponry remains unclear.

Speculation that North Korea would conduct its sixth nuclear test in just over a decade to coincide with last Saturday's celebrations marking the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung, proved unfounded.



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