November 09, 2009 09:48
The private train North Korean leader Kim Jong-il uses on his trips either within the communist country or abroad consists of around 90 carriages, and some 20 train stations have been built specifically for his own use. To defend Kim against attack, two separate trains precede and follow the main entourage, one handling reconnaissance and the other security.
South Korean and U.S. intelligence have been spying on Kim's private train with satellites, U-2 reconnaissance aircraft and other surveillance equipment, as well as testimonies of North Korean defectors. Among private stations for Kim's train are the Pyongyang Yongsong and Kangdaedong stations. Others are in Wonsan, Shineuiju and Hyesan, which are no more than 30 km away from his private retreats.
When Kim travels, three separate trains operate in conjunction. The advance train handles security checks to see whether the rail tracks are safe. Behind Kim's train is another carrying his bodyguards and other support personnel. Kim's train travels at an average speed of 60 km/h. Around 100 security agents are sent ahead of time to stations and sweep the area for bombs. Before Kim's train nears the station, the power on other tracks is shut off so that no other trains can move.
Kim's train is armored and also contains conference rooms, an audience chamber and bedrooms. Satellite phone connections and flat screen TVs have been installed so that the North Korean leader can be briefed and issue orders.
Sources say when Kim gets out of his train and moves to his private retreat, he is driven in a Mercedes or other car that has been brought along. When Kim travels within North Korea aboard his private train, IL-76 air force transport planes, MI-17 helicopters and other aircraft provide security support and haul necessary personnel and equipment to nearby airports. So far, Kim has taken 129 on-the-spot guidance trips around North Korea, matching the record he set in 2005 and probably exceeding it by the end of the year.
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