Seoul, Sep 6 (efe-epa).- North Korea may be preparing to launch a submarine ballistic missile, according to the latest satellite imagery of a shipyard on its east coast.
Yonhap news agency said the Sinpo South Shipyard was abuzz with activities, suggesting preparations for a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
The images captured by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) shows some vessels at the shipyard.
One of the vessels resembles the one that was previously used to tow the submersible test stand barge out to sea, which has triggered speculations about the launch of Pukguksong-3 SLBM.
Another indicator of the possible test was the presence of two ROMEO-class submarines anchored within the bay of the submarine base on Mayang-do Island off the coast of Sinpo, the US think tank said in a report published on its website.
“While the most likely reason for their presence is that they are exercising as part of the annual summer training cycle, preparations to observe a forthcoming SLBM test should not be ruled out at this time,” the think tank said.
It said that such a test would support escalating speculation that North Korea had been making advances in both ballistic missile and SLBM development during the past year.
It might be now planning “to demonstrate these new capabilities around the time of either its national Foundation Day on Sep 9 or the Korean Workers’ Party Foundation Day on Oct 10.”
The think tank said there was also activity around the static test stand on the south side of the shipyard that had been seen in the past both for maintenance and before ejection tests.
“These apparent launch preparations might indicate the highly-speculated ‘October surprise’,” the CSIS said.
Some analysts have warned of the possibility of the country carrying out an arms test before the US elections in November and the launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine is one of the possibilities being considered.
The denuclearization dialog between North Korea and the US has been at a standstill since the failed Hanoi summit in 2019, when Washington refused to lift sanctions, deeming the North Korean disarmament offer insufficient. EFE-EPA