Washington (CNN)New satellite imagery obtained by CNN reveals North Korea has recently taken steps to conceal a facility US intelligence agencies believe is being used to store nuclear weapons, a move that could add to the growing sense of urgency from critics who argue the Biden administration needs to articulate a clear strategy on how it will deal with Kim Jong Un going forward.
The image, captured by Maxar on February 11 and analyzed by experts at the Middlebury Institute, shows North Korea built new structures at its Yongdoktong site over the course of 2020 — an effort researchers say is likely intended to obscure a pair of underground tunnel entrances that lead to the facility where nuclear weapons are stored.
“Images released by Maxar show the pair of tunnel entrances as late as December 2019 and a new building-like structure visible by February 2021,” according to Jeffrey Lewis, a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, which specializes in open-source intelligence.
Yongdoktong has been previously identified by US intelligence as a suspected North Korean nuclear weapons storage facility and is still believed to be used for that purpose, a US intelligence official told CNN.
The satellite images obtained by CNN reaffirm what has been widely known among US national security officials and experts for years: North Korea continues to actively develop nuclear weapons at sites around the country while taking further steps toward hiding the stockpile it has already accumulated.
Recent construction at the site will certainly catch the attention of US intelligence agencies as they carefully monitor sites suspected to be part of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, according to two former intelligence officials and congressional lawmakers.
Lawmakers and key US allies are eagerly awaiting details about President Joe Biden’s North Korea policy, which they expect will be announced publicly in the coming weeks when the administration has completed a policy review, according to multiple sources familiar with the internal discussions.