North Korea to Launch Missiles
North Korea to Launch Missiles
After analyzing Nov. 23 and 26 aerial photos, the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said the communist country may be able to complete preparations at its Dongchang station by the end of next week.
“If Pyongyang follows past practice in preparing for a launch, it could be ready to fire a rocket as early as the end of the first week in December,” Nick Hansen, a retired expert on imagery technology, said on the think tank’s blog.
He cited trailers carrying the first two stages of a rocket parked near the main missile assembly facility, which he called “a clear indicator that the rocket stages are being checked out before moving to the pad for an eventual launch.”
Among other major improvements spotted were empty tanks indicating that the propellant buildings at the pad have likely been filled, a temporary building with a possible antenna to monitor a liftoff, instrumentation trailers nearby, and increased activity at structures used to house VIPs in the past.
But Hansen said an early launch appears unlikely because the regime has not yet informed international aviation, maritime or telecommunication agencies of its plan as it has done prior to previous liftoffs.
The latest analysis is buttressing earlier forecast by DigitalGlobe Inc., a U.S.-based commercial satellite operator, that the North’s fifth missile launch could occur in the next three weeks, citing progress at the same site.
Burwell Bell, a former U.S. Forces Korea commander, has attributed the apparent rocket preparations to Pyongyang’s effort to flaunt its possession of transporters of atomic weapons to the U.S. and the South, Voice of America reported Friday.
He also said that despite past failures, the regime would overcome technical obstacles and soon be able to fire an ICBM, it added.
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