Thermal Imagery Analysis of Continued Activity at Yongbyon

Nuclear Weapons
, by , , and LANDSAT 7 and LANDSAT 8 thermal infrared satellite imagery in January and February show that warm water is being discharged from the 5MWe reactor at Yongbyon, confirming that the reactor and its cooling system are in operation. Thermal patterns from the same period suggests that the IRT-DPRK reactor, the Radiochemistry Laboratory, and the centrifuge plant are occupied, but not necessarily operational, and not in a state of shutdown. 

Thermal Imagery Analysis of Yongbyon

Nuclear Weapons
, by , , and Recent thermal infrared imagery of the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center show warm water being discharged from the cooling system of the 5MWe reactor and that the reactor is in operation. During the past several months, water discharge from the reactor and probable steam exhaust from the steam turbine and electric generator hall has been observed in visible satellite imagery. Through thermal imagery, it can be determined that the water that is being discharged is indeed warm water discharge from the reactor's cooling system.

North Korea Attempting to Reverse COVID-19 Border Shutdown with Import Disinfection Facilities

, by , and Over 16 months after its shutdown of the border with China to prevent COVID transmission, North Korea has seen delays in its efforts to re-open commerce with its primary trade partner. The conversion of Uiju Airbase into a disinfection facility started in early 2021, but the most recent satellite imagery as of November 12 shows no signs of being operational, indicating a delay of at least six months from its original opening plans. Smaller-scale disinfection facilities at other crossings appear to be in development.

Current Status of the Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant (Nam-chon Chemical Complex) and January Industrial Mine

Nuclear Weapons
, by , and The Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant remains the sole verified producer of uranium concentrate in North Korea. As such it represents the foundation upon which the nation’s production of fissile material for nuclear weapons is built. Commercial satellite imagery collected from April through October 2021 continues to demonstrate that despite the absence of any nuclear testing by North Korea since 2017 the Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant remains operational, continues to be maintained, and is producing uranium concentrate (U3O8, “yellowcake”).

Assessing Fall 2021 Agricultural Conditions in North Korea

Health, Humanitarian Aid
, by , , and Food security is a perennial domestic concern for North Korea. This report utilizes remote sensing analysis to understand the current condition of North Korea’s food production and crop yields that the country will depend on for the coming year. .. This article was originally published as a CSIS Korea Chair Platform on October 4, 2021.…