December 03, 2019 13:56
North Korea has been building concrete platforms for mobile missile launchers at scores of locations nationwide since last summer, the Asahi Shimbun reported on Monday.
The report comes as an embarrassment for Cheong Wa Dae national security adviser Chung Eui-yong, who recently claimed it is "impossible" for the North to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles from mobile launchers.
At the time, the military here tried to back up Chung by saying, the North would need to reinforce the ground for launchers to withstand the thrust. But the Asahi report suggests it has done exactly that.
"The platforms, each dozens of meters in width and length, are big enough for mobile launchers to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles," the daily reported quoting sources in South Korea and the U.S.
The concrete platforms stabilize the launcher and prevent it from being destroyed or the trajectory of a missile going awry when it is launched.
In the past, North Korea sometimes saw launch angles tilted erroneously or mobile launchers destroyed due to launch-induced vibrations. To prevent this, they launched them only from mobile launchers on concrete roads or airport tarmacs.
"South Korea's National Intelligence Service suspects North Korea may test an intermediate-range or longer-range ballistic missile in coming weeks," the daily added.
Japan has deployed an Aegis destroyer in the East Sea since early November to monitor possible military provocations by the North. "North Korea last conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile test in November 2017 when it launched a Hwasong 15... projectile capable of targeting the U.S. mainland," the daily added.
That means the dismantlement of the fixed Tongchang-ri missile launch site is no longer of any military significance.
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