The Washington Post: With Technology, Researchers Figure Out North Korea’s Nuclear Secrets

Anyone with satellite imagery tools and persistence can monitor activities on the ground in North Korea or, for that matter, China or the United States. Reports emerged that North Korea had tested a solid-fuel missile engine in October, unconfirmed by the government. The East Asia Program of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies’ nonproliferation center in Monterey, California, went online to check a concrete block used for a previous engine test. Writiing for the Washington Post, Anna Fifield describes how Dave Schmerler made 3-D models of buildings in North Korean photos, reviewed official reports on Kim Jong Un’s activities and found the test site using a combination of Google Earth and Planet imagery. “Technology is making it possible for open-source analysts to do the kind of work previously the preserve of intelligence agencies and, in the process, learn all sorts of things about one of the most impenetrable countries in the world — one that wants to send nuclear-tipped missiles to the United States,” Fifield explains. Researchers also study equipment and other details in released images and videos to calculate thrust and size of missile technologies and type of fuel. North Koreans follow global news reports on their nuclear program and strive to eliminate stray details in released images, and the analysts are likewise secretive about their less obvious methods. –YaleGlobal

The Washington Post: With Technology, Researchers Figure Out North Korea’s Nuclear Secrets

Satellite technologies allow analysts to study the progress and effects of deforestation, wildfires, construction and more around the globe
Anna Fifield
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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Anna Fifield is The Post’s bureau chief in Tokyo, focusing on Japan and the Koreas. She previously reported for the Financial Times from Washington DC, Seoul, Sydney, London and from across the Middle East.

Read about Planet’s imaging and modeling technology that provides daily intelligence and details on trends for agriculture, defense, energy and infrastructure, finance and business, shipping, forestry and insurance purposes. 

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