REUTERS•DIGITAL GLOBE•SCAPEWARE3DNorth Korea has a second submarine missile launcher test site, new images show
Commercial satellite imagery has identified the second submarine missile site at the Nampo Naval Shipyard on North Korea’s west coast, according to thinktank 38 North which monitors the secretive state.
The watchdog says the discovery of the second launcher could indicate Kim Jong-un has stepped up his submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) programme.
The test stand barge is reportedly similar in size to previous Russian models which can be used to conduct underwater tests for new submarine missile launch systems before they are installed in submarines.Related articles
If both barges were acquired at the same time, it would imply that Pyongyang had planned a more extensive test program than it has so far conducted
Joseph S Bermudez Junior from 38 North
Joseph S Bermudez Junior from 38 North said: “The discovery of a second missile test barge may have a number of implications for the future of North Korea’s SLBM program that appears to be an important priority for Kim Jong-un.
“A key consideration is the timing of the acquisition of the barges. If both were acquired at the same time, it would imply that Pyongyang had planned a more extensive test programme than it has so far conducted.
“However, since the second barge seems to have been acquired three years after the first, this could mean that North Korea is planning to accelerate its SLBM test program to include a west coast component or develop new SLBM designs, or that it may deploy a ballistic missile submarine with the West Sea Fleet.
“None of these possibilities are mutually exclusive.”
It is unclear if the barge was manufactured in North Korea, but 38 North says a survey of the North’s naval shipways suggest the barge was imported into the country.
38 North said: “The barge appears identical in size (9m by 22.5m) and layout to the original barge that was first seen in 2014 at the Sinpo South Shipyard on the country’s east coast, which has been involved in at least four, and maybe as many as six, launches of the Pukguksong-1 (KN-11) SLBM since then.”
The satellite images are the latest in a series suggesting there could be fresh activity at Kim Jong-un’s test sites.
Last month chilling images revealed “unusually high levels of activity” at Kim Jong-un’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site.
DIGITAL GLOBE/SCAPEWARE3DSubmersible test stand barge seen at the Sinpo South Shipyard
DIGITAL GLOBE/SCAPEWARE3DA second submersible test stand barge seen on same day at the Nampo Naval Shipyard
Experts say the