• Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Satellite photos shed light on N Korea's secret nuclear facilities

Staff Reporter 2014-01-23 11:49 (GMT+8)
A satellite photo of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. (Internet photo)

A satellite photo of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. (Internet photo)

Photos taken by commercial satellites have recently revealed information on North Korea's four major nuclear facilities, according to the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po.

The secret installations were spotted in Yongbyon county, Punggye-ri, Sohae and Tonghae, the paper said.

The photos showed that Pyongyang has restarted its nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. Under an agreement reached during the fifth round of the six-party talks, North Korea had agreed to shut down the nuclear research center in February 2007. The commercial satellites caught activity at the research center last year, however, and analysts claim that North Korea is capable of producing one nuclear bomb a year at the installation.

As for the underground nuclear test site at Punggye-ri, the satellite photos identified new tunnel entrances. After the construction work is completed, North Korea will have three underground tunnels to test bombs in the future, the paper said.

Meanwhile, the photos indicated that North Korea is building new systems to launch the rockets horizontally at the Sohae rocket test facility, where the country's Unha rockets are launched. The satellite photos also show a major upgrade at the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground, with North Korea completing the construction of a new command center and an assembly line of rockets.

Although there is no evidence to prove that the country will conduct a new nuclear test this year, the satellite photos show that it is a possibility, Wen Wei Po said, adding that North Korea is currently assumed to have between eight and 12 nuclear bombs.

Who`s who »
Xu Dazhe (許達哲)

Xu Dazhe is the administrator of the China National Space Administration. Xu was born in Hunan province in 1956 and joined the Communist Party in 1982. He studied mechanical engineering at the ...