According to a team of analysts gathered by the New York Times, North Korea recently released a propaganda photo that lacked the usual signs of photo-doctoring Kim Jong Un utilizes for nearly all official pictures released by his regime.  Nearly every official photograph of the reclusive world leader is manipulated by North Korean officials at least slightly, usually in favor of improving Kim’s looks and healthy appearance, so why would he choose to omit the Dictator-Instagram filter from a recent picture of him alongside the country’s first miniaturized nuclear warhead?

To send a message to intelligence analysts in the West.

Although the seemingly simple photograph depicts Kim Jong Un speaking to a group of people in plain clothes, taking notes in a semi-circle around Kim and the weapon, to many, the most important focal points of the photograph don’t involve the world leader at all.

North Korean propaganda photographs are often easy to spot, and they tend to take little time to be picked apart by American intelligence analysts – who can use the details of the photograph to infer specifics about equipment or weapon systems that often contradict Kim’s grandiose claims.  However, this otherwise unremarkable photograph lacks those tell-tale signs of North Korean exaggeration for an important reason: it seems their missile program may actually be as dangerous as they claim – or at least it could be soon.