North Korea Nuclear Facilities - Yongbyon 3D Flythrough Movie from Stereo IKONOS Satellite Image Data at 0.8m Resolution

October 04, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Technology News
Satellite Imaging Corporation in cooperation with GeoEye created a 3D Terrain Model of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities in North Korea. The creation of the 3D Flythrough movie was made possible with the use of Stereo IKONOS Satellite image data and 2m DEM extracted from the image data.

“This new 3D terrain model can provide organizations and agencies with a bird’s eye view of the nuclear site to observe and monitor any significant activities that may occur since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) put a freeze on the site.”

North Korea - 3D Movie of Nuclear Facilities at Yongbyon
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<1m Stereo IKONOS Satellite Image Data and 2m DSM

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Satellite remote sensing and GIS technologies combined with appropriate sets of geospatial information is an invaluable tool for the handling, display, and analysis of information involved in every aspect of Global Security.

History of Yongbyon:
A “freeze” was ordered by inspectors from the IAEA in July of 2007 on North Korea’s main source of plutonium, the 5 megawatt-electric reactor — MW (e) at the Yongbyon nuclear site and its nearby plutonium separation plant, the Radiochemical Laboratory (see associated Images). This freeze was ordered under the “Agreed Framework” with the United States. The nuclear site will be monitored through satellite images, surveillance cameras and short notice inspections to assure that there will be no activities within the site.

Research Facility

Radio Chemical Laboratory

Construction of the gas-graphite reactor began in 1980. It is believed to have been made operational in 1986-1987. The 5 megawatt-electric reactor is estimated to produce about 5-7 kilograms of plutonium each year for North Korea a total estimated plutonium stock of between 46kg and 64kg, of which about 28-50 kg is estimated to be in separated form and usable in nuclear weapons. In 1989, high altitude aerial photographs showed the presence in Yongbyon of a structure which could possibly be used to separate plutonium from nuclear fuel. Between 1994 and 2003, North Korea’s stock of separated plutonium was enough to create 4 to 13 nuclear weapons.

5 MWe Reactor

50 MWe Reactor

Before Yongbyon was shut down, international observers tried to determine when the reactor was in use by analyzing satellite images which showed steam plumes coming from the cooling tower.

Although the closure of Yongbyon is seen as a major breakthrough concern remains over Pyongyang’s commitment to fully give up its nuclear arsenal.

Unclassified reports were confirmed by satellite images which indicated that North Korea shut down the reactor in April 2005, likely to unload the fuel. The reactor’s core was estimated to have contained 10-15 kilograms of plutonium.

IAEA inspectors regularly monitor the 5-MW (e) reactor, the fuel fabrication plant, and the reprocessing plant. IAEA uses all technical means available to monitor the freeze at these facilities. Newly acquired Mono and Stereo Satellite images continue to support the monitoring of the site for any significant construction activities. Due to long inactivity period and weather issues the completion of this reactor would likely take several years. If finished, the 50 megawatt-electric reactor could produce enough plutonium annually for roughly ten nuclear weapons.

More on Yongbyon Nuclear Facilities

Satellite Imaging Corporation acquires high resolution mono and stereo satellite image data utilized for security and other applications including the use of specialized image processing techniques and spectral analysis algorithms, thereby enhancing the visualization of terrain conditions, vegetation and facilities in remote areas. The third dimension (3D), provided by the extraction of a Digital Elevation Model from high resolution Stereo Satellite sensors such as IKONOS, WorldView-1 and GeoEye-1 (scheduled to be launched during to be second quarter of 2008), 3D Visualization provides a greater transparency for nuclear and other facilities around the World.

The enhanced image processing techniques utilized and use of a high resolution digital elevation models (DEM’s) we can closely examine various terrain conditions and attributes, their influence on the movement and changes of soil, vegetation and nutrients, as well as the resulting effect on forest, plant, and wildlife productivity.