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. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. Opinions split on Napoles turning state witness
  3. Delfin Lee: Blame Pag-Ibig, not me
  4. Plunder complaint filed vs PNP chief, firearms office head over license delivery deal
  5. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  6. San Juan cops fail to arrest Cedric Lee
  7. More ‘Yolanda’ bodies found
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  10. Boy ‘sexually assaulted’ at Indonesia international school
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  5. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  6. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  10. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  8. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  9. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
  10. Ex-PBA player Bryan Gahol dies in road mishap
Advertisement

News

  • Napoles tags over 100 officials in pork scam – Lacson
  • Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  • Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  • 43 out of 414 Etihad passengers yet to be found, tested for MERS-CoV – Palace
  • Sandigan junks Marcos family claim to Paoay property
  • Sports

  • Rain or Shine holds off Meralco, forces Game 3
  • Power Pinays yield to Japan in Asian Women’s Club volleyball
  • Caguioa blasts ‘no heart, soft’ Ginebra on Twitter
  • San Mig Coffee grinds out win over Alaska to force decider
  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • 19 Ukrainians, Russians, Filipinas rescued in bar raid
  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement