A new image analysis suggests that North Korea has dramatically sped up the pace of work on construction projects at its main missile launch site.
Commercial satellite photographs taken as recently as May 10 have revealed notable progress on “a number of important construction projects” at the Dongchang-ri rocket site, said image experts Nick Hansen and Jack Liu in a Tuesday report for 38 North.
“While it is too soon to make a definitive judgment on their purpose, one working hypothesis is that the North is building a new complex to conduct future training and launches for mobile missiles such as the KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile,” the experts said.
Hansen and Liu say their hypothesis meshes with the apparent rocket engine tests of the KN-08 that have been detected in recent weeks and months. North Korea has yet to test-launch the road-mobile missile, but foreign analysts believe it is designed to have continent-spanning flight capabilities. At least three engine tests of the missile are understood to have occurred so far, according to 38 North. Hansen previously said that the next logical step in Pyongyang’s development of the long-range missile would be to conduct a flight test.
While the construction projects were observed previously, the recent “rapid pace” of work on them suggests they are a “high priority” for the Kim Jong Un regime, according to 38 North, which is a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The projects include a large new facility that — in the space of a little more than a month — went from having no foundation to having a completed circular level and four additional lower levels on the inside that give it the appearance of an amphitheater from space.
Additionally, a newly cleared area can be seen connected to the circular facility that might be intended for future use as a flat surface for training mobile missile units, the report said.
The May 10 satellite images also show that work to augment a missile launch tower at Dongchang-ri “is continuing at a slower pace than initially projected, possibly because of higher priority work” at other parts of the site, the analysts said. The firing tower previously had been used for the launching of space rockets that have a direct bearing on North Korea’s development of ICBMs.
38 North now believes the alterations to the launch tower will not be finished before the middle of the summer, after they were earlier projected to be completed by March or April. This means that no new space rocket launch is likely to occur at Dongchang-ri before the end of the summer, according to the analysts.
What We're Following See More »
"Jon Stewart could arrive on HBO in time for the November presidential election. In a Paley Media Council interview Thursday with CNN’s Brian Stelter, HBO CEO Richard Plepler was asked whether viewers could expect to see Stewart, former host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” on HBO before the general election. 'Yeah, I’m hopeful,' Plepler said."
Beginning next month, Metro will begin a series of "about 15 separate large-scale work projects," each of which will close down stations and/or sections of track for up to weeks at a time. The entire initiative is expected to take about a year. The Washington Post has a list of the schedule of closures, and which lines and stations they'll affect.
A day after saying he could not yet support Donald Trump's presidential bid, House Speaker Paul Ryan has invited the billionaire to a meeting in Washington next week with House leadership. Ryan and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will also meet separately with Trump.
"President Obama used the White House podium on Friday to dismiss Donald Trump as an unserious candidate to succeed him, and said leading the country isn't a job that's suited to reality show antics." At a briefing with reporters, the president said, "I just want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious times and this is a really serious job. This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States. And what that means is that every candidate, every nominee needs to be subject to exacting standards and genuine scrutiny."
In the The White House on Thursday night unveiled a series of executive actions to combat money laundering—"among the most comprehensive response yet to the Panama Papers revelations." The president's orders will tighten transparency rules, close loopholes that allow "foreigners to hide financial activity behind anonymous entities in the U.S., and demand stricter “customer due diligence” rules for banks.