N.Korean Launch Pad 'Ready for Missile Test'

      June 16, 2009 07:59

      A satellite image taken on June 3 shows part of what analysts says is a new long-range missile base in North Korea.

      North Korea has finished preparatory work at a missile launch pad in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province, where a long-range missile has been transported, a South Korean government source said Monday. "But the launch is not imminent because no radar has been set up and no missile has been installed at the launch pad," the source added.

      But the launch structure connecting electric power and fuel to the missile and allowing personnel to check the missile has been erected. That means North Korea is speeding up preparations to launch a long-range missile there.

      Expert analysis of satellite photos shows the launch structure is about 50 m high, much higher than the 30 m it had previously been believed to be. A launch pad of this height is capable of firing an intercontinental ballistic missile measuring 40 m or longer.

      The old launch pad at the Musudan-ri launch site in North Hamgyong Province is a mere 32m high. The whole Tongchang-ri launch site actually seems to be three times as large.

      But experts are still divided on when and what kind of missile the North will fire, the source added. There is a likelihood that North Korea will conduct a third nuclear test in resistance to the UN Security Council's adoption last week of a resolution sanctioning it over the last one.

      South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities are watching for signs of another nuclear test, having spotted constant moves of personnel and vehicles in the Punggye-ri area in Kilju-gun, North Hamgyong Province, where it conducted the first and second nuclear tests.

      South Korean and U.S. intelligence services are watching two or three locations as possible candidate sites for another nuclear test. The likeliest candidate site is the eastern mine pit area of Mt. Mantap in Punggye-ri, where the first nuclear test in October 2006 happened.

      • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com
      Previous Next
      All Headlines Back to Top