N.Korea 'Turned Chinese Trucks into Missile Launchers'

North Korea converted Chinese trucks into massive mobile platforms for launching KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles it paraded in 2012, independent researchers claimed Tuesday.

Jeffrey Lewis, Melissa Hanham and Amber Lee at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies made the claim in an article on the website 38 North run by Johns Hopkins University. It is headlined, "That Ain't My Truck: Where North Korea Assembled Its Chinese Transporter-Erector-Launchers."

After the North showcased the platforms in a parade, a Chinese company was suspected of providing components and it was unclear whether it sold fully assembled launchers or just the chassis-and-cab assembly.

Based on propaganda materials from North Korean Central TV, testimony from defectors, a computer simulation of a missile launcher assembly plant and satellite images, they concluded that the North has remodeled heavy-duty vehicle chassis imported from China into mobile missile launchers at Hakmu Workers' District near Jonchon Railroad Station in Jagang Province.

The researchers said that Pyongyang told China that "the vehicles were to be used in logging," which is one of a handful of "plausible civil uses for these otherwise highly specialized vehicles."

Mobile missile launchers are hard to track. The KN-08 missile has a range of 5,000-6,000 km and can reach Alaska if not the U.S. mainland.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 05, 2014 09:56 KST