May 24, 2012 09:21
North Korea is constructing a new ballistic-missile launch pad in Musudan-ri, North Hamgyong Province, experts claimed Wednesday.
The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, on its blog 38north.org on Wednesday, claimed the new launch pad is for intercontinental missiles aimed at the U.S. and suggested a possible link with Iran. It said the facility can accommodate a more advanced missile than the rocket whose launch failed in February.
The institute analyzed images taken by the commercial satellite Digital Globe on April 29 and said the new facility is being built 1.75 km east of the existing facility in Musudan-ri. The facility is twice the size of existing facilities in Musuan-ri and Tongchang-ri and has a bigger flame trench, launch pad and storage facility for fuel oxidizers.
Construction started last summer, the institute said, and predicted it will be operational in 2016 or 2017. It said the assembly plant at the new site is similar in design to Iran's Missile and Space Center at Semnan.
The Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan, quoted the chief of the Tongchang-ri launch facility as saying on April 16 that the North has "specific plans to launch a satellite not only at the Tongchang-ri site, but at Musudan-ri as well."
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