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 »
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”