Business & Economy

Increased activity detected at North Korea’s satellite launch site

Seoul, Apr 1 (EFE).- An expert analysis of satellite images published on Friday signals an increase in activity at North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launch Center, which leader Kim Jong-un recently urged the modernization of in order to launch large carrier rockets.

Photos taken of the test site in the northwest of the country between Mar. 22-31 show that covered materials outside the main processing building have been gradually moved, most likely inside the building, according to the analysis carried out by 38 North, a United States-based think tank.

“These materials were likely associated with Kim’s instruction to reconstruct and expand facilities related to the ‘general assembly’ of rockets,” the analysis said.

“While the full extent of those improvements will likely take a considerable while to complete, as time will be needed to manufacture and bring in specialized components, activity is gradually picking up around the complex,” it added.

“Whether this new activity is related to the overall improvement plan or are short-term measures in preparation for a satellite launch in the near future is unclear.”

During his visit to the site in early March, the North Korean leader called for the modernization and expansion of the launch pad area, the facilities related to the general assembly and trial gearing of rockets and satellites as well as the injection and supply of fuel and the launch control facility to enable “large carrier rockets to be launched there” and to expand rocket engine testing capabilities, according to 38 North.

The United States has said that North Korea is planning a launch under the guise of putting satellites into space that will secretly test technology for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), as it has done on previous occasions.

The analysts also noted an increase in the number of vehicles around the VIP housing area and the Administration and Security headquarters.

“This kind of activity has been observed in the past in the lead up to satellite launches, to prepare or inspect these accommodations for VIP observers,” they said.

North Korea, which remains totally cut-off due to the coronavirus pandemic with no sign of opening up to the outside world soon, approved a five-year military modernization plan in January 2021, which is behind its latest tests, a record 12 so far this year.

In addition to launching its first ICBM since 2017 last week, satellite images also suggest the regime could soon test a submarine-launched ballistic missile and detonate a nuclear bomb for the first time in five years. EFE


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