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NK may be nearing completion of new ICBM facility: report

Satellite image of the suspected missile site near Pyongyang International Airport. (Beyond Parallel)
Satellite image of the suspected missile site near Pyongyang International Airport. (Beyond Parallel)

A new facility that is probably linked to North Korea’s ballistic missile program is nearing completion, a US think tank said.

In a report published onTuesday (US time), Beyond Parallel, a website specializing in North Korean matters run by the Washington-based Center for Strategic International Studies, said the facility -- located about 17 kilometers northwest of Pyongyang International Airport -- is most likely linked to the North’s missile program. The website predicted that it would be completed later in the year, or early next year.
The report is based on analysis conducted in conjuction with Jane's Intelligence Review, a monthly security journal.

The assessment was based on satellite images showing the size of the roads, interconnecting buildings, a covered rail terminal and the presence of a large underground facility within the main facility, Beyond Parallel said.

Beyond Parallel also cited the facility’s location in relation to manufacturing facilities that have been linked to the North’s ballistic missile program.

Based on this evidence, Beyond Parallel said the facility could serve a number of functions such as assembling ballistic missiles using components produced at nearby plants, and storing missiles as well as equipment used to transport and launch missiles.

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification declined to comment on related reports, saying it would be inappropriate to comment publicly on information about North Korean military facilities.

The South Korean military also declined to comment, saying only that North Korea’s missile-related activities were being closely monitored.

But Institute for National Security Strategy researcher Cho Sung-ryoul disputed Beyond Parallel’s assessment.

Speaking in a radio interview, Cho said the facility’s purpose was probably to defend Pyongyang International Airport.

“I think that to assess that (the facility) is for firing ICBMs could be hasty,” Cho said, adding that North Korea positions missile units near airports.

“I am certain that (the facility is for) a missile unit for responding to attacks.”

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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