New Signs Point to North Korea Prepping for Road-Mobile Missile Tests

Missiles are displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang in April 2012. Recent satellite images suggest North Korea is preparing a comprehensive testing program for its mysterious new road-mobile, long-range ballistic missile.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
Add to Briefcase
Rachel Oswald
Jan. 30, 2014, 9:49 a.m.

North Korea ap­pears to be ready­ing one of its rock­et sites for a vig­or­ous test­ing pro­gram that could in­volve the coun­try’s mys­ter­i­ous new stra­tegic mis­sile.

Re­cent satel­lite im­ages sug­gest that a po­ten­tial tri­al of the KN-08 mis­sile’s rock­et en­gine oc­curred at the Dongchang-ri mis­sile site between late last month and early this month, the spe­cial­ist web­site “38 North” said in a Wed­nes­day ana­lys­is.

Sur­veil­lance pho­to­graphs taken as re­cently as about a month ago show what could be the first stage of the KN-08 mis­sile and a crane that po­ten­tially would have been used to lift the weapon’s en­gine onto the launch plat­form. Sub­sequent im­ages taken on Jan. 9 show the “pos­sible rock­et stage, vehicles and crane are no longer present,” writes im­age ana­lyst and re­port au­thor Nick Hansen.

Hansen also points to the ab­sence of snow in front of the flame trench on Jan. 9 that could have been melted either by the en­gine be­ing fired up or by warm­er weath­er. All of these signs amount to “lim­ited evid­ence” that an en­gine test has oc­curred, he said.

The KN-08 has yet to be flight tested. While earli­er ver­sions of the sus­pec­ted in­ter­con­tin­ent­al bal­list­ic mis­sile dis­played at parades ap­pear to have been crude mockups, mod­els seen in sub­sequent mil­it­ary dis­plays look to have been bet­ter de­signed. This is a pos­sible in­dic­a­tion that North Korea is mak­ing pro­gress in re­fin­ing its road-mo­bile bal­list­ic mis­sile, ac­cord­ing to in­de­pend­ent ex­perts.

U.S. Na­tion­al In­tel­li­gence Dir­ect­or James Clap­per in a Wed­nes­day brief­ing to the Sen­ate said North Korea ap­pears to have “already taken ini­tial steps” to field the KN-08, des­pite the weapon be­ing un­tested.

The signs picked up by 38 North — a pro­ject of the U.S.-Korea In­sti­tute at Johns Hop­kins Uni­versity — sug­gest that Py­ongy­ang could be plan­ning a test­ing pro­gram at Dongchang-ri for the KN-08 and sep­ar­ate space launch vehicles. In­dic­a­tions in­clude:

— the con­struc­tion of two 45,000-gal­lon con­tain­ers that could be in­ten­ded for hold­ing fuel for mo­bile mis­siles;

— the place­ment of a per­man­ent dish an­tenna that could be in­ten­ded for track­ing mis­sile flight paths; and

— the build­ing of what ap­pears to be two flat pads of a form tra­di­tion­ally util­ized for launch­ing mo­bile mis­siles.

All of this build­ing work, which has been on­go­ing since last sum­mer, is  “con­sist­ent” with in­ten­tions to use the mis­sile site as a train­ing and fir­ing fa­cil­ity for Py­ongy­ang’s “new gen­er­a­tion of re­gion­al and in­ter­con­tin­ent­al-range mo­bile mis­siles,” 38 North con­cluded.

What We're Following See More »
BUT IS HE A YES VOTE?
Cornyn Attempting to Get McCain Back for Health Vote
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
“TIME HAD RUN OUT” FOR ILL BABY
Charlie Gard’s Parents End Legal Fight
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A lawyer representing Chris Gard and Connie Yates told the High Court 'time had run out' for the baby. Mr. Gard said it meant his 'sweet, gorgeous, innocent little boy' will not reach his first birthday on 4 August. 'To let our beautiful little Charlie go' is 'the hardest thing we'll ever have to do,' his mother said. Charlie's parents said they made the decision because a US doctor had told them it was now too late to give Charlie nucleoside therapy.

Source:
AGENCY SOUGHT TO DELAY IMPLEMENTATION
11 States Sue EPA Over Chemical Rule
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Eleven states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its June decision to delay implementation of a chemical safety rule" until 2019. "The state attorneys general, led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman (D), argue the rule is important for 'protecting our workers, first-responders and communities from chemical accidents' and should be allowed to take affect as planned by the Obama administration’s EPA.

Source:
ULTIMATUM ON ACA
Trump: You’re With Us Or Against Us
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
$1.6 BILLION SET ASIDE FOR WALL
House Freedom Caucus Chair: Shutdown Over Wall Funding Unlikely
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Monday said that funding for President Trump's controversial border wall is unlikely to cause a government shutdown. 'The odds of a government shutdown are very minimal when it comes to that,' the conservative lawmaker said at an event in Washington, D.C. 'I do think the funding of the border wall will happen,' he added. Appropriators have set aside $1.6 billion to fund new wall and fencing sections on parts of the U.S.-Mexico border covering a few dozen miles."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login