Images show North Koreans playing volleyball at nuclear test site


After eight weeks of nearly continuous activity at the Punggye-Ri site, where satellite images have shown trucks coming and going, and barrels lined up outside buildings, three volleyball games were apparently played, analysts said Wednesday.

The second is that North Korea-knowing that analysts are watching-are trying to trick those analysts into thinking that the site is on standby.

But analysts watching the Punggye-ri nuclear test site via satellite spotted a more vigorous type of activity: volleyball, being played in at least three parts of the facility. A 38 North report presents possible explanations: "The site and associated preparations for a sixth nuclear test have transitioned to a "stand-by" status, with personnel being allowed some down-time for recreation", it says.

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North Korea had been widely expected to test a nuclear weapon last weekend, marking a day officially known as the "Day of the Sun" - the April 15 anniversary of the 1912 birth of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's founder.

38 North notes that satellite imagery has previously captured games in progress throughout the nation.

The images showed indications of some minor dumping from mine carts, which could indicate tunnelling work, but no active pumping of water out of the tunnel system used for nuclear testing, they added.

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Tensions have escalated recently, with Pyongyang warning Washington not to take provocative action in the region, saying it is "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks".

But questions remains over how advanced the country's nuclear programme is. In the end, no nuclear device was tested, but during a parade on Saturday the totalitarian regime did display a number of missiles that could theoretically reach the United States, and it made a failed bid to launch a ballistic missile the next morning.

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