Nuclear Researchers Spot North Korean Volleyball Games

People playing volleyball at Kim Jong-un's nuclear test site in North Korea

DIGITAL GLOBE/38 NORTH SPORTY Workers have been spotted playing volleyball at Kim Jong-un's nuclear test site

Volleyball is a popular sport in North Korea and games have been spotted at the facility on a number of occasions since 2006, but this is the first time that three concurrent games have been played.

USA -based Chinese-language Web site Boxun.com reports that Beijing has entered a crisis-response mode as it believes North Korea could conduct its sixth nuclear test around April 25th.

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

But if you thought the North Koreans were taking a break, it's more likely that the games were staged knowing the outside world is looking.

38 North, a monitoring project at John Hopkins University in Maryland, says the images show little activity around the north portal, a tunnel North Korea appeared to have been preparing for another nuclear test.

Jong-un said on Thursday that North Korea was prepared to carry out a "super-mighty pre-emptive strike".

Three analysts working with 38 North - Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Jack Liu and Frank Pabian - published a note Wednesday suggesting that activity at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site appeared to be slowing after two months of intensity.

People playing volleyball at Kim Jong-un's nuclear test site in North Korea
DIGITAL GLOBE/38 NORTH VOLLEYBALL Satellite images show volleyball games in progress

Haley, the current president of the U.N. Security Council, said members were working on a statement condemning the latest failed missile launch. Satellite imagery shows increased activities at Punggye-ri, renewing concerns another nuke test could be imminent.

"Some may be supplies or equipment with tarps or netting draped over them", it said.

On Saturday in Sydney, Australia, Pence said that a US naval strike group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was expected to be in the Sea of Japan, by the end of this month.

US Vice President Mike Pence earlier vowed that the United States would counter any North Korean attack with an "overwhelming and effective" response.

Senior aides to Trump have said that military options are not off the table in dealing with North Korea's rapidly advancing nuclear and missile technologies.

As North Korea keeps the USA guessing about its next moves, American analysts are relying on high-resolution satellite imagery to see what Pyongyang is up to.

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