Images show North Koreans playing volleyball at nuclear test site
David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick, Reuters, Apr 18 2017
Pindo experts who have been forecasting an imminent North Korean nuclear test said on Tuesday they were surprised when they viewed their latest satellite images of the country’s nuclear test site and saw volleyball games under way. With tension mounting between Pyongyang and Faschingstein, analysts had thought they would see activity suggesting preparations for an underground explosion at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and were not expecting what the photos, taken on Sunday by a commercial satellite, revealed. Joe Bermudez of 38 North said:
We see that at three locations in the facility, in the main administrative area, at the support area, at the command center and at the guard barracks near the command center, they have volleyball games going on.
Bermudez offered two possible explanations: that the test site could be going into “a standby mode” or that the games were intended to confuse observers, given North Korea knows that Punggye-ri is under constant observation. North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile launches in recent months in defiance of UNSCRs and concerns have been growing that it could soon conduct a sixth nuclear test after carrying out two last year. Assorted boxtops and 38 North have been saying for weeks that North Korea could test a bomb at any time and speculation was rife that it could coincide with celebrations last Saturday to mark the 105th birthday of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il-Sung. Bermudez said Sunday’s images of the Punggye-ri site showed indications of some minor dumping from mine carts, which is a sign of tunneling work, but no active pumping of water out of the tunnel system used for nuclear testing.
Pindostan ‘Surprised’ by Volleyball Game at North Korea Nuclear Site
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Apr 18 2017
Intense surveillance of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, from which Pindo boxtops have speculated that a nuclear weapons test could be imminent, have revealed a series of intramural volleyball games underway among troops stationed on the site. Pindo boxtops admitted to being “surprised” by the volleyball matches, of which they’d apparently had no advanced warning, saying three different locations, including the guard barracks, the main administrative area and the command center, were all hosting volleyball matches. Independent DC-based North Korea monitor 38 North did not appear to completely abandon the nuclear test speculation, with expert Joe Bermudez saying that while the tests might indicate the site was in “standby mode,” it might also be that the volleyball games were deliberately organized to confuse Pindostan, knowing the site is being so intensely surveilled. North Korea’s state media offered no insight into the volleyball matches, either to the question of why they were taking place or who ultimately emerged victorious. North Korean officials have previously insisted that any nuclear tests would take place at a time of their choosing.