July 10, 2020 13:37
North Korea appears to be running a new nuclear facility in Wollo-ri near Pyongyang that is suspected of building nuclear warheads, U.S. experts claim. The facility has never been declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
CNN posted satellite images from Planet Labs showing a facility that has "all the signatures of a North Korean nuclear facility -- security perimeter, on-site housing, monuments to unpublicized leadership visits, and an underground facility," according to Jeffrey Lewis at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
In many cases, North Korea has built high-rise residential buildings as a perk for nuclear scientists and set up monuments after its leader's visits in areas near nuclear facilities.
"The big thing that sticks out is all the vehicle traffic -- cars, trucks, shipping containers. This factory is very active. That activity has not slowed down -- not during negotiations and not now. It's still making nuclear weapons," Lewis told CNN. "We'd been looking at this site for a long time and knew it was associated with the nuclear program."
According to CNN, Ankit Panda, a North Korea expert of the Federation of American Scientists who has watched the Wollo-ri facility since 2015, writes that the facility "is thought to be primarily associated with manufacturing warheads and 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.'"
But a military source here dismissed the speculation, saying there has been no meaningful activity yet in Wollo-ri despite the suspicion of a nuclear facility standing there.
The Defense Ministry here declined to comment, saying only that the U.S. and South Korea "are watching developments closely."
"It's possible that it's a military facility given the security perimeter around it," Shin Jong-woo of the Korea Defense and Security Forum said. "It may be a facility for another military purpose, not for nuclear warhead development."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com