April 15, 2021 Joseph Bermudez, Victor Cha, Andy Dinville and Dana Kim—
Recently acquired LANDSAT 7 and 8 thermal infrared imagery of the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center provide strong indications that during March and April 2021, activity involving the heating of buildings and operations of facility support systems had resumed at several locations.
These indications reveal clear patterns, distinct from the surrounding terrain and daily solar heating patterns, that suggest that the Radiochemistry Laboratory, its associated thermal plant, and the centrifuge plant resumed operations during the early part of March 2021 and have continued into mid-April 2021.
March 30, 2021 Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha—
At the Yongyon Radiochemistry Laboratory, steam (or smoke) rising from any of the stacks within the radiochemistry laboratory itself is not often observed in commercial satellite imagery. However, the March 30 image shows a plume of steam or smoke emanating from a small support building in the center of the facility. This, while not an indicator of a reprocessing campaign itself, indicates that the building is occupied and being heated.
March 11, 2020 Joseph Bermudez—
Declassified April 1972 satellite imagery the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center show developments which taken as a whole continue to represent both an ongoing first-phase construction project for the facility and early infrastructure development efforts within a longer-term plan for future expansion. This work laid the foundations for the construction of the facility’s first waste storage facility in the years to follow and the massive second phase expansion that would begin during the early-1980s.
February 14, 2020 Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha—
Satellite imagery acquired on February 14, 2020 shows that the three specialized railcars identified in Beyond Parallel’s report from February 11, 2020 have been moved from west of the Radiochemistry Laboratory to the southern rail yard adjacent to the reported isotope/tritium production facility.
A fourth railcar is present in the latest imagery in addition to the three railcars that were captured in imagery from February 10, 2020.
These railcars have been associated with the movement of radioactive material in the past.
If past practice is any indication, all four cars will leave the Yongbyon facility sometime during the next seven days.
February 11, 2020 Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha—
Satellite imagery acquired on February 10, 2020 shows the presence of three specialized railcars that have been associated with the movement of radioactive material in the past. The last observed presence of these railcars by Beyond Parallel was in November 2019.
The size and number of the casks observed on the railcars suggest the outbound shipment of irradiated liquid or solid waste, disassembled but contaminated equipment or, potentially, the movement of fissile materials. A less likely alternative is the inbound shipment of radioactive material.
November 14, 2019 Joseph Bermudez, Victor Cha and Dana Kim—
Recent satellite imagery from November 2019 shows the presence of four specialized railcars that have been associated with the movement of radioactive material in the past. The last observed movement of these railcars by Beyond Parallel was in April 2019. It is unclear whether the railcars are being used for the outbound shipment of irradiated liquid or solid waste, disassembled but contaminated equipment or the movement of fissile material to facilities outside the Yongbyon area. A less likely alternative is the inbound shipment of radioactive material from a facility outside the Yongbyon area.
April 18, 2019 Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha—
April 15 railcar movement observed in Airbus satellite imagery at North Korea's Yongbyon facility provides no further understanding concerning the presence of these specialized railcars other that their probable use for the movement of radioactive material.
April 16, 2019 Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha—
DigitalGlobe satellite imagery of North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility acquired on April 12th shows the presence of five specialized railcars near the Uranium Enrichment Facility and the Radiochemistry Laboratory.
In the past these specialized railcars appear to have been associated with the movement of radioactive material or reprocessing campaigns.