Sohae facility
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 19, 2017 shows the ground jet test of a newly developed high-thrust engine at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea. STR/AFP/Getty Images

Photos taken from a birdseye perspective using commercial satellite imagery of a facility near the Pyongyang suggest that North Korea is prepping for either a missile or space rocket launch in the imminent future.

The images, which were taken on Feb. 22 by a space imaging company named DigitalGlobe and exclusively obtained by NPR, were posted on Friday. The aerial photos feature vehicular activity at the facility, located in Sanumdong, a suburb of North Korea's capital.

In the photographs, cars and trucks are seen parked outside the facility's main production hall, with two cranes and a number of railcars positioned in a rail yard nearby. The appearance of these machines and vehicular help appear to indicate that construction is currently underway at the Sanumdong site, which has previously been used for assembling intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and satellite-launching rockets.

"We're seeing a lot of vehicle activity at the Sanumdong facility and also at the rail transfer point where it would be loaded and taken to Sohae," said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, in an interview with NPR.

The release of the images come only days after photos were taken of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, a North Korean satellite facility for space launches that was previously believed to have been defunct, but now appears to have been rebuilt. The station's last space launch took place sometime in 2016.

"I think the evidence points to a satellite launch, and not just the evidence at Sanumdong, but also the evidence from Sohae," Lewis said.

Possible missile construction also suggests that President Trump made little progress in February's U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The purported construction of at least one possible missile at the Sanumdong site weeks after the second summit could be viewed as a more dire and deadly repeat of the consequences of the first summit in June, when North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un made vague promises to end its nuclear program but made no substantial progress on disarmament nearly a year later, according to U.S. Forces Korea Commander Robert Adams.

Abrams said in February that the North Korean military remains "formidable and dangerous, with no discernable differences in the assessed force structure, readiness, or lethality my predecessor reported in 2018."

The comments contrast Trump's statements after the first summit, when he posted on Twitter that there "[was] no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea," and added that "North Korea has great potential for the future[.]"

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July confirmed during a Senate testimony that North Korean factories "continue[d] to produce fissile material” for the production of nuclear weapons only a week before similar photos of the Sanumdong facility were released in the summer of last year which captured the construction of liquid-fueled ICBMs.