Quantcast
Latest Stories

Images show North Korea launch-pad halt


This May 26, 2013 satellite image taken by Astrium, and annotated and distributed by 38 North shows an unfinished new missile assembly building, top left, and control center, top right, at the Tonghae facility in North Korea. An eight-month construction standstill at the North Korean site meant to launch bigger and better long-range rockets may signal Pyongyang is slowing or even stopping development of larger rockets, according to a new analysis of recent satellite imagery. AP

SEOUL, South Korea—An eight-month construction standstill at a North Korean site meant to launch bigger and better long-range rockets may signal Pyongyang is slowing or even stopping development of larger rockets, according to a new analysis of recent satellite imagery.

The sight of unfinished roads and grass growing from the foundation of a large new rocket assembly building could be welcome news for Washington and others who see Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile work as a threat — though it is unknown if the work stoppage is only temporary.

Another unknown is why North Korea stopped construction on the launch pad, rocket assembly building and launch control center at what was intended to be a major new facility at the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground on the northeast coast, according to analysis provided to The Associated Press by 38 North, the website for the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

But the analysis of May 26 commercial satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe and Astrium provides some possible scenarios about what’s happening.

One theory is that equipment and construction troops sent from the site to help repair widespread rain damage last year may still be at other posts. Another is that North Korea’s leadership has decided that its more modern Sohae rocket launching site on the northwest coast, the one used to launch rockets in April and December 2012, will be sufficient to support large rocket development

But the most intriguing theory from the analysis is that the work stoppage could reflect a decision in Pyongyang to slow or stop building larger rockets.

“If Pyongyang ultimately abandons facilities to launch large rockets it only began building in 2011, that could have important implications for North Korea’s space launch program as well as the development of long-range missiles intended to deliver nuclear weapons,” Joel Wit, a former U.S. State Department official and now editor of 38 North, said in an email.

Any clues about North Korea’s secretive rocket program, which Washington and others see as a cover for work on missiles that could strike the U.S. mainland, are significant.

Tensions between the rival Koreas remain high, despite recent diplomatic efforts to ease animosity, and the Korean Peninsula remains technically in a state of war because the Korean War ended 60 years ago Saturday with a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

The analysis said there’s no sign of activity, equipment or personnel at the new launch pad at Tonghae. Grass is growing from the foundation of a large new rocket assembly building, and work is incomplete on a road meant to bring construction equipment and, eventually, large rocket stages to the site.

Even if North Korea resumes work at the site, the delay means completion could be pushed back to 2017, at least a year longer than earlier estimates, according to the analysis.

Earlier this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un enshrined the drive to build a nuclear arsenal, as well as expand the economy, in North Korea’s constitution.

Since 2006, North Korea has staged three nuclear tests of apparently increasing power and a series of long-range rocket launches. North Korea says its rocket launches are meant to put peaceful satellites into orbit.

What the Obama administration saw as faster-than-anticipated North Korean progress on nuclear weapons and missiles prompted a March announcement that Washington would spend $1 billion to add 14 interceptors to the U.S.-based missile defense system.

North Korea reacted with fury to U.N. sanctions that followed nuclear test this year and the December rocket launch, threatening nuclear war on Washington and Seoul. The rival Koreas countries have since made tentative efforts at diplomacy, holding five so-far fruitless meetings this month meant to restart a jointly run factory park that was shut down during the tensions in the spring.

Outsiders have difficulty assessing North Korea’s intentions and technical capabilities, but many doubt that Pyongyang has yet mastered the technology needed to miniaturize a nuclear device to mount on a long-range missile and attain its goal of being able to directly threaten the United States. Some analysts, however, believe Pyongyang may be able to arm shorter-range missiles with warheads.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Astrium , long-range rockets , Missile , North korea , Pyongyang , satellite imagery , Tonghae facility




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  2. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  6. DOJ to NBI: Arrest Cedric Lee, 4 others
  7. Cardinal Tagle to faithful: Join politics to clean it
  8. Estrada, Gigi Reyes denied access to evidence from other respondents
  9. Thoughts on Holy Week
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  2. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  3. Netizens cry: 6/55 Lotto was rigged
  4. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  5. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  6. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  7. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  8. ‘King’ Yabut and I: Driver bares Makati dad ‘abuses’
  9. It was difficult having Japanese blood
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. UP back on top as ‘average’ student aces bar
  5. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  6. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  7. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  8. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  9. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  10. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
Advertisement

News

  • DOH asks co-passengers of OFW carrier to test for MERS-CoV
  • 5.5-magnitude quake hits Sultan Kudarat
  • Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  • Firetruck rams California eatery; 15 injured
  • Heavy traffic reported on NLEx, SLEx
  • Sports

  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Federer would skip tennis to be with wife, newborn
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Derek more private with new girlfriend
  • Business

  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • PSEi continues to gain
  • Number of retrenched workers rose by 42% in ’13
  • Technology

  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  • Filling the digital talent gap
  • SSS to shut down website for Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • UC Irvine cultural night to dramatize clash of values in immigrant family
  • Filipino sweets and info served at UC Berkeley Spring Fest
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement