US Korea Institute

Monday August 3rd 2015
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Satellite Imagery

A look from the sky at what’s happening down in the DPRK.

North Korea: Sohae Facility Ready to Support Future SLV Launch; Preparations for Engine Testing Identified

North Korea: Sohae Facility Ready to Support Future SLV Launch; Preparations for Engine Testing Identified

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Tim Brown and Jack Liu. Summary Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates that construction begun in spring 2015 after the earlier modification of the Sohae gantry for space launch vehicles (SLVs) has been completed. It appears that the SLV stages and payload can be prepared horizontally in a new [...]

North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Facility: Sporadic Operations at the 5 MWe Reactor But Construction Elsewhere Moves Forward

North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Facility: Sporadic Operations at the 5 MWe Reactor But Construction Elsewhere Moves Forward

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by William Mugford. Summary Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates that North Korea’s 5 MWe Plutonium Production Reactor may not be operating or is only functioning at low power levels. The presence of what is likely a vehicle to transport carbon dioxide used in the reactor’s cooling system may [...]

North Korea’s Ponghwa Chemical Factory

North Korea’s Ponghwa Chemical Factory

By Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Sun Young Ahn Summary Nearly every modern nation must obtain and refine oil to ensure its economic viability, and North Korea is no exception. However, the country’s lack of significant proven oil reserves has forced it to import all of its crude oil and many of its finished petroleum products, while relying [...]

Update on North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Facility

Update on North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Facility

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by William Mugford Summary Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates that North Korea has initiated new construction at its still incomplete experimental light water reactor (ELWR) at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. Imagery from May 24, 2015 shows Pyongyang is building a structure [...]

North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: Spring Construction and Maintenance Activities Continue

North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: Spring Construction and Maintenance Activities Continue

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Jack Liu Summary Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates that North Korea is conducting regular spring construction and maintenance activities at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site. There are no indications of nuclear test preparations at this time. Given the time and effort such preparations [...]

North Korea: New Construction at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station

North Korea: New Construction at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Tim Brown. Summary Recent commercial satellite imagery shows new construction at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station (“Tongchang-ri”), specifically at the site used to launch the Unha space launch vehicle (SLV), most recently in 2012. While the upgrading of the gantry to support a space launch [...]

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Credit for photo of young North Korean girl: T.M. All rights reserved, used with permission.