As the global attention is focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with most of the remaining attention going to the consistent baiting of Taiwan by China, their quiet little brother of North Korea is cooking things up without talking a peep about their activities. With China insisting that the US is not treating NK as well as it should, the commotion around their nuclear testing sites shows that the US does not need to play nice.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke out about positive measures NK’s leader Kim Jun-un has undertaken to get the two sides talking but had yielded no results. “Where to go next depends largely on what the American side does: will it really take concrete actions to solve the problem, or will it continue to use the [Korean] peninsula issue as a strategic bargaining chip?”
These comments came as new satellite images were released showcasing early work at the NK nuclear test site Punggye-ri. That satellite intel was provided by Jeffrey Lewis from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Considering this testing site was dismantled as part of a prior agreement in 2018, these are the most troubling images.
While these changes are incredibly early in the changes, they are a sign that something is certainly going on at the site. Given their invitation to the press to watch them destroy the testing site, it becomes questionable how well they destroyed things, and how much was just more NK propaganda. Any attempts to return to testing nuclear weapons are in direct conflict with their previous agreements and would violate other agreements they have made. Considering the release of these satellite images came on Friday, the same day they started testing more long-range missiles, it makes for a very worrisome combination.
According to Lewis “We have been monitoring the Punggye-ri nuclear test site closely for signs that North Korea was beginning to repair the site. In the image, we see very early signs of activity at the new site, including the construction of a new building, repair of another building, and what is possibly some lumber and sawdust. North Korea uses a substantial amount of wood at the site both for buildings and shoring up tunnels. These changes occurred only in the past few days.”
Thankfully with so many satellites in orbit, the globe can see what NK is up to. While the images can take time to come in, be audited, and be released to the public, this kind of information is something not only the American public but world leaders as a whole need to be aware of. When you consider how uncertain the extent of destruction the facility previously suffered, the question of how quickly they can get going again is unclear.
What is clear though, is Minister Yi’s accusations that the US is being unfair to NK is very misguided. The US has been giving them opportunity after opportunity to get right. They have been keeping their people oppressed for decades and were it not for the fear of nuclear war breaking out across the globe, they probably would have been liberated decades ago. The U.N. resolutions they have been violating at various periods over the years have prevented them from receiving aid to help their starving population.
As their people continue to suffer and Jung-un sits at a banquet, he refuses to do what it takes to get his country back on track. His delusional brainwashing about the ‘superpower’ that is NK to his people has not gone unnoticed as anything more than a joke. Unfortunately, these people lack the support to stand up to him either. Until the people can gain the strength to stand up, they will remain oppressed for decades to come. Likewise, he will do what it takes to keep them weak too.