19:52 GMT21 February 2020
Listen Live
    Military & Intelligence
    Get short URL

    New satellite images indicate that North Korea could be expanding its submarine-launched ballistic missile program (SLBM), as photos show the presence of Pyongyang’s second submersible test-stand barge.

    The barge was spotted on North Korea’s west coast in aerial photos taken of the Nampo Naval Shipyard, 38 North, a North Korean watchdog site hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s US-Korea institute, noted in a Monday analysis.

    A test stand barge at the Nampo Naval Shipyard in North Korea
    A test stand barge at the Nampo Naval Shipyard in North Korea

    The report, written by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., suggests that "Barges such as these are used by navies to conduct underwater tests of new and modified submarine missile launch tubes and launch systems, as well as to conduct initial missile test launches before these systems are installed in a submarine."

    Since 2014, Pyongyang has conducted at least six test launches of the KN-11 (Pukguksong-1) missile from its other barge at the Sinpo South Shipyard on the country’s east coast.

    The new, second barge appears identical to the first, according to the report, and appear to be modeled after Russia’s old PSD-4 barges. 

    The analysis adds, "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."

    Whether Pyongyang constructed the barge or acquired it from another country isn’t clear.

    Japanese media reported a submarine-launched ballistic missile in December 2016, seen at the time as part of the North’s efforts to enhance their “cold launch” capabilities from a vertical launch system.

    This activity comes amid North Korea’s ongoing missile and nuclear weapons tests, despite international sanctions and calls for denuclearization. The US has deployed vessels to the Korean Peninsula as a show of force and is in the midst of some of its annual drills with South Korea, moves that have infuriated Pyongyang.

    The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has lately responded to Washington’s posturing by declaring that it would conduct its next nuclear test whenever the leadership deemed it necessary, saying through its state-run news agency that the country is "fully ready to respond to any option taken by the US." 


    Tillerson May Ask Individual UN Member States to Address North Korea Concerns
    US Mulls Putting North Korea Back on State Sponsor of Terrorism List
    White House Claims Beijing Now Views North Korea as Threat to Chinese Security
    Japan’s Abe Hopes for Closer Ties With Russia, Dialogue on North Korea, Syria
    US Pacific Commander: Pyongyang’s Actions Could Justify Invasion of North Korea
    submarine launched ballistic missile, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK)
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via SputnikComment via Facebook