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Satellite photos appear to show China building nuclear test site in Uyghur region

Recent satellite photos appear to show that China’s military has developed Its nuclear testing facilities in occupied East Turkistan, the predominantly Uyghur region where the Communist Party is committing genocide, according to an analysis by Nikkei Asia magazine released on Monday.

Nikkei Asia received the newly captured satellite images from Planet Labs, a US-based public Earth imaging company, and reviewed them with experts to determine their significance. The Japanese news magazine shared its findings on August 1, writing:

Extensive covers have been erected on a mountainside in this arid region, and broken rocks piled up nearby are believed to be evidence of the excavation of a new “sixth tunnel” for testing hidden beneath.

Power cables and a facility that could be used to store high explosives have recently been installed, while unpaved white roads lead from a command post in various directions.

The evidence of new construction was detected by a satellite 450 kilometers away [280 miles] above Lop Nur, a dried-up salt lake in the southeast of Western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region [East Turkistan]. Many analysts believe that the secret nuclear test site is secured by the [Chinese] People’s Liberation Army [PLA].

The satellite images of Lop Nur region of East Turkistan reported by Nikkei Asia on Aug. 1 were taken between June and July, as the magazine noted that the site’s suspected storage facility was completed in June. According to the report, satellite images first recorded Chinese military leveling land near Lop Nur in October 2020 before recording large trucks passing through the area sometime in 2021.

“[T]the electricity infrastructure for the sixth tunnel was built in the first half of 2022,” according to Nikkei Asia.

The magazine further revealed that “increased radiation” was detected alongside development at Lop Nur over the past two years.

China’s PLA last conducted underground nuclear tests at Lop Nur in 1996, according to official records. Recent military activity near the lake – especially the suspected tunnel construction – suggests that Beijing plans to resume such activity in the area.

While China’s nuclear arsenal has aged since its last nuclear test at Lop Nur more than a quarter of a century ago, Beijing has made efforts to strengthen its nuclear capabilities in recent years.

“From 2020, the country [China] developed new intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, that would “significantly improve its nuclear missile forces,” the Voice of America (VOA) said rebroadcast in January citing annual report by the US Department of Defense.

“The number of [Chinese] Warheads on land-based ICBMs “capable of threatening the United States” are expected to reach about 200 over the next five years, the Pentagon report said. Beijing previously maintained only about 20 silo-based ICBMs, Carnegie for International Peace said in a 2021 study,” VOA noted.

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