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Thermal Imagery Analysis of Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor

As part of continuing coverage of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, Beyond Parallel has undertaken a new thermal infrared analysis of the 5MWe and Experimental Light Water reactors at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center using NASA ASTER, LANDSAT 7, and LANDSAT 8 thermal infrared imagery.

  • ASTER, LANDSAT 7, and LANDSAT 8 thermal infrared imagery from September 12, October 23, and November 16 show warm water being discharged from the cooling system of the 5MWe reactor and that the reactor is in operation. 
  • The fuel rods irradiated during the reactor’s operations will most likely be subsequently sent to the Radiochemical Laboratory for reprocessing to provide additional plutonium designed to expand North Korea’s inventory of nuclear weapons. 
  • Multispectral and infrared satellite imagery not only supports but also dramatically illustrates and expands upon the conclusions in Beyond Parallel’s March 30, 2021 and April 15, 2021 reports.