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N Korea at crossroads

Satellite images show North Korea's path back to nuclear testing

Tunnel work and construction point to restoration of Punggye-ri facility

Maxar satellite imagery of North Korea's nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri.

TOKYO -- Recent satellite photos suggest that North Korea is preparing for what would be its first nuclear weapons test since September 2017, with work apparently underway on bringing the Punggye-ri underground testing site back into operation.

Repairs at Punggye-ri

Photos taken April 5 by U.S.-based Planet Labs and obtained by Nikkei show piles of material near Punggye-ri, believed to be debris from tunnel excavation. Jeffrey Lewis, a professor with expertise in East Asia nonproliferation at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, noted signs of repair work on tunnels to the underground facilities -- a possible sign that nuclear testing may resume soon.

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