Sizable Construction Seen Under Way at N. Korean Missile Site

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Sept. 3, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

North Korea has be­gun a large-scale build­ing pro­gram at its key mis­sile-launch com­plex, ac­cord­ing to the ex­pert web­site 38 North, which ana­lyzed satel­lite sur­veil­lance pho­to­graphs taken to­ward the end of last month.

Six not­able new con­struc­tion ef­forts have be­gun so far this sum­mer at the Dongchang-ri mis­sile site, which is the new­er and lar­ger of North Korea’s two mis­sile-fir­ing fa­cil­it­ies. Of spe­cial in­terest is a work site that might be turned in­to a ce­ment “flat launch pad,” which could serve as a plat­form for launch­ing bal­list­ic mis­siles from road-mo­bile launch­ers il­li­citly ac­quired from China, ac­cord­ing to im­age ex­pert Nick Hansen, who au­thored the 38 North re­port.

It is still too early in the con­struc­tion to reach a de­cis­ive con­clu­sion on the im­plic­a­tions of the build­ing work, ac­cord­ing to Hansen.

Still, the ab­sence of any not­able move­ment at the North’s older mis­sile launch­ing fa­cil­ity at Musudan-ri and the amount of build­ing work around Dongchang-ri sug­gests that Py­ongy­ang does not plan to carry out any more mis­sile or rock­et launches in the next half year, con­cluded 38 North, which is a pro­ject of the Johns Hop­kins Uni­versity’s U.S.-Korea In­sti­tute.

Mean­while, the South Korean De­fense Min­istry in a Tues­day re­port to par­lia­ment de­clared that Py­ongy­ang has the abil­ity to pro­duce a nuc­le­ar device whenev­er it wants, the Yon­hap News Agency re­por­ted.

“North Korea’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram re­mained at a de­vel­op­ment­al and ex­per­i­ment­al stage in 2010, but it has grown in­to a real threat in 2013, and it is able to make a nuc­le­ar device at any time,” the min­istry said, fur­ther not­ing that “China’s chan­ging at­ti­tude to­ward North Korea proves the ser­i­ous­ness of (its nuc­le­ar pro­gram).”

The Chinese mil­it­ary’s deputy chief of gen­er­al staff, Sun Ji­an­guo, on Tues­day re­it­er­ated Beijing’s “con­sist­ent and clear-cut” com­mit­ment to the de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion of the Korean Pen­in­sula, Yon­hap sep­ar­ately re­por­ted.

China’s seni­or ne­go­ti­at­or to a para­lyzed six-na­tion pro­cess aimed at achiev­ing per­man­ent North Korean de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion last week met with his North Korean coun­ter­part. The two men “ex­changed views on the re­sump­tion of the six-party talks,” ac­cord­ing to Chinese For­eign Min­istry spokes­man Hong Lei.

The six-party nuc­le­ar talks in­volve China, Ja­pan, North and South Korea, Rus­sia and the United States. The aid-for-de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion ne­go­ti­ations were last held in late 2008.

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