North Korean nuclear test site now... a volleyball court?

A satellite image showing a "probable volleyball game" seen at the main administrative area of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

Story highlights

  • Satellite images show what appears to be volleyball games being played on nuclear site
  • Analysis suggests that the test site is ready, or that tests have been put off for now

(CNN)After readying a possible nuclear test, it seems that North Korea's nuclear technicians are entitled to some downtime.

North Korean monitoring service 38 North says satellite images from April 16 show what appears to be "three volleyball games underway at different locations throughout" at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
The analysts say the games could indicate the test site has "transitioned to a stand-by status" and that personnel were "being allowed some downtime for recreation."
Or, they say, it could be a "tactical pause" until leader Kim Jong Un gives his orders.
Just one week ago, the monitoring agency said the site was "primed and ready" for a sixth nuclear test.
38 North says this images show a "probable volleyball game seen at the command center support area" at the North Korea nuclear test site.

No change in US analysis

US military and intelligence analysis has remained the same for the last several weeks, and concludes that North Korea is ready and capable of conducting an underground nuclear test at any time. It's unlikely to give any warning.
Another possible volleyball games seend at the guard barracks.
Volleyball is a popular sport in North Korea and the country's women's national team came third in the 1972 Munich Olympics -- beating neighbors and rivals South Korea to the podium.
38 North notes that satellite imagery has previously captured games in progress throughout the nation.
"Personnel playing volleyball at the Punggye-ri nuclear test facility have also been identified on a number of occasions as far back as 2006 prior to the first nuclear test and more recently in February," it said.
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The agency notes that this would be the first time that three games at the same location had been recorded.