The imagery, captured by Planet Labs in addition to also analyzed by experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, indicates in which the facility, which is actually inside village of Wollo-ri near the country’s capital city of Pyongyang in addition to also has not been previously disclosed to the public, is actually believed to be linked to North Korea’s nuclear program in addition to also remains active.
“This particular has all the signatures of a North Korean nuclear facility — security perimeter, on-site housing, monuments to unpublicized leadership visits, in addition to also an underground facility. in addition to also This particular sits right next to a bottled water factory in which has none of those characteristics,” Jeffrey Lewis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, which specializes in open-source intelligence, told CNN prior to publishing his own report.
“The big thing in which sticks out is actually all the vehicle traffic — cars, trucks, shipping containers. This particular factory is actually very active. in which activity has not slowed down — not during negotiations in addition to also not at This particular point. This particular’s still generating nuclear weapons,” he told CNN.
While the facility was identified in 2015 by researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Lewis in addition to also his fellow researchers previously chose not to publicize the facility because they could not identify its specific role within North Korea’s nuclear program.
However, the publication of the site’s name in addition to also function in a forthcoming book written by Ankit Panda, a North Korea expert who works for the Federation of American Scientists, makes its location a matter of public interest, they told CNN.
In his book, titled “Kim Jong Un in addition to also the Bomb,” Panda writes in which the facility is actually thought to be primarily associated with manufacturing warheads in addition to also could also serve as a storage location for those weapons should North Korean leader Kim Jong Un need to disperse his stockpile “for better responsiveness in a crisis,” according to passages obtained by CNN.
“We’d been looking at This particular site for a long time in addition to also knew This particular was associated with the nuclear program. When Ankit Panda asked me if we knew about a site near someplace called Wollo-ri in which was involved in generating nuclear weapons, This particular all clicked,” Lewis said.
The CIA in addition to also Pentagon declined to comment when asked if the facility is actually believed to play a role in North Korea’s nuclear program.
This particular also comes as talks between Washington in addition to also Pyongyang remain stalled.
US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have continued to insist in which the Trump administration remains focused on North Korea’s complete denuclearization, despite the fact in which Kim never formally agreed to such terms in addition to also intelligence officials maintain in which Pyongyang has little intention of surrendering its weapons stockpile.
A United Nations report produced earlier This particular year revealed in which North Korea continued to develop its weapons program in 2019, violating long-standing UN Security Council sanctions. One section of the report reviewed by CNN said North Korea’s ballistic missile program was “characterized by its intensity, diversity in addition to also coherence.”
Meanwhile, North Korean state media has said in recent months in addition to also weeks in which the country’s leaders have no immediate intention of engaging inside type of high-level talks with the US in which took place last year.
“Kim Yo Jung’s provocative gestures in addition to also Kim Jong Un’s follow actions are likely calculated,” a South Korean official told CNN This particular week. South Korea is actually still trying to coordinate talks between the US in addition to also North Korea yet This particular appears Pyongyang has not responded, the official added, using a different spelling for Kim’s name.
Additionally, former national security adviser John Bolton has repeatedly said while promoting his brand new book in which Trump has been played by Kim in addition to also the threat coming from North Korea is actually “absolutely greater” today than This particular was prior to two summits between the leaders since 2018.
“The idea in which just This particular oleaginous layer of compliments to This particular brutal dictator would certainly convince him in which you could make a deal with Donald Trump, I thought, was both strikingly naïve in addition to also dangerous,” Bolton told ABC News in an interview last month.
“The threat coming from North Korea today is actually absolutely greater. Because while all these photo opportunities were taking place, there’s absolutely no doubt in which North Korea’s work on both its nuclear in addition to also ballistic missile programs continued. This particular’s one of the most secretive societies on the planet,” he said.
State Department Deputy Secretary Steve Biegun will likely try to avoid discussing the claims made by Bolton when he meets with his South Korean counterparts This particular week, in addition to also he plans to have a frank discussion about President Moon Jae-in’s brand new national security leadership, as some of those officials have relationships with North Koreans, a US official in addition to also another source familiar with his plans told CNN on Tuesday.
Moon recently named Park Jiewon, a former lawmaker in addition to also presidential chief of staff, as the country’s brand new spy chief.
Park is actually one of South Korea’s foremost experts on the North, yet, like Moon, has been criticized by conservatives for being too close to Pyongyang. Park was sentenced to prison for secretly sending money to the North in order to arrange the inter-Korean summit in 2000.
While meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Biegun will reinforce the US position in which there will be no sanctions relief for North Korea unless there is actually denuclearization. He is actually also required to urge South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to maintain its working group with the US, though in which group has faced some criticism coming from Moon’s brand new national security team, the sources said.
Biegun said Wednesday in which the US is actually ready to restart talks with North Korea once Kim appoints a “prepared in addition to also empowered” lead negotiator yet in which the administration had not requested a meeting ahead of his visit to Seoul.
“When Chairman Kim appoints a counterpart to me, who is actually prepared in addition to also empowered to negotiate on these issues, they will find us ready at in which very moment. Dialogue can lead to action, yet action is actually impossible without dialogue,” he said.
North Korea’s nuclear program believed to be active
Meanwhile, recent satellite imagery suggests North Korea continues to actively build up its nuclear weapons stockpile at sites like Wollo-ri, which “has numerous signatures suggesting in which This particular carries a role inside DPRK’s nuclear program,” experts told CNN.
“The site is actually distinguished by a strong security perimeter in addition to also what appears to be several high-rise residential buildings on site (next to a tree-lined pond),” Lewis in addition to also fellow researchers Catherine Dill, David Laboon in addition to also David Schmerler said.
“North Korea tends to emphasize the construction of better housing as a perk for scientists in addition to also technicians involved inside nuclear in addition to also missile programs. Placing in which housing on site in addition to also within a security perimeter separates the personnel at the facility coming from the neighboring community,” experts added. “Moreover, although there are monuments at the Wollo-ri site in which indicate leadership visits, we find no state media reports on any such visits. These are all characteristics of various other DPRK nuclear facilities.”
Additionally, the site appears to contain an underground facility, according to satellite images, though experts acknowledge This particular is actually difficult to assess how extensive in which facility is actually.
“The site itself is actually set against a hillside substantial enough to accommodate an underground facility (see figure below) in addition to also is actually extensively terraced. numerous buildings could serve as entrances to such a facility,” Lewis in addition to also his team write.
Satellite photos also reveal consistent vehicle movement at the site, indicating This particular remains active in addition to also carries a continuing role in North Korea’s nuclear development, according to analysts coming from the Middlebury Institute.
“Vehicle traffic at the site suggests in which manufacturing at Wollo-ri continued during the summit process in which stretched coming from the meeting in Singapore in June 2018 to the June 2019 meeting between Trump in addition to also Kim inside DMZ,” they said.
“Recent satellite images show in which vehicle traffic continues, suggesting in which the DPRK continues to manufacture nuclear warheads or their components,” the experts added.
CNN’s Kylie Atwood in addition to also Joshua Berlinger contributed to This particular report.