According to latest analysis of satellite photos, North Korea extended a site linked to the making of long-range nuclear missiles and boosts a rising expectation the country soon will resume testing the ability that threatens the U.S. According to the East Asia Nonproliferation Program’s director at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Jeffrey Lewis, commercial images of satellite took from Planet Labs show an impermanent structure at the factory to accommodate the raising of a launcher equipment.
In a written analysis, Lewis concluded, they believe North Korea establishes this structure when the missile facility involved in creating or modifying ICBM launchers using the abbreviation for intercontinental ballistic missiles. Furthermore, North Korea extended the March 16 Factory in Pyongsong city, a factory linked with the production as well as modification of ICBM launchers. The factory produces both civilian and military vehicles. KamAZ, a Russian truck manufacturer, began participated in a combined venture from November 2006-2010 at the factory to manufacture civilian vehicles.
Lewis says in an interview with a news channel that these are several evidence pieces pointing in one way. According to him, it has there seen activity at many locations representing North Korea working for the expansion of their ICBM program – more buildings, more systems, and more capabilities. The latest evidence comes as military and intelligence officials of the United States concerned that North Korea self-assured to conduct a long-range missile test in the upcoming few days or weeks, a move that would signal the final collapse of diplomatic discussions that Trump addressed as a signature foreign policy accomplishment.
Gift of Long-Range Ballistic Missile to the United States
Administration of Kim Jong recently warned of looming “Christmas gift” to the U.S., and the top general of the United States Air Force in the Asia-Pacific region said previous week that he believes that gift might be the test of a long-range ballistic missile. Planet Labs’ commercial imagery shows that North Korea started expanding the site shortly after the visit of Kim in June, including constructing a new infrastructure that connected to one where Kim observed preparations for the Hwasong-15 launch in 2017.
The country paused nuclear as well as long-range missiles in 2017 in the wake of diplomatic dialogues with the U.S. that included two summit meetings between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, whereas no progress is seen in recent months. Head of Pacific Air Forces, General Charles Brown told reporters on December 17 that he would expect some type of long-range ballistic missile might be the gift. “Does it come on the Christmas Event? Does it come on the day of Christmas? And does it come after 2020? One of the responsibilities of the authorities is to pay devotion to that.”
Brown said that the Air Force would appear to respond to a long-range missile launch, without being specific. There is too much stuff they did back in 2017 that they can dust off fairly rapidly and be ready to use. The missile facility flagged by Lewis along with his team, known as the March 16 Factory. The facility manufacturers both civilian as well as military vehicles.
Facility Visit of Kim in August and December 2017
In August 2017, Kim Jong Un visited the facility. Lewis said though North Korea presented him trucks as civilian vehicles while the same type of trucks seen in 2017 and 2018 military parades transporting ICBMs. In December 2017, Kim again visited the factory to observe preparations for Hwasong-15 ICBM’s launch. Tests of North Korea for mobile missiles tend to conduct from facilities involved in the launcher’s production.
Lewis says that Kim visited the part of the factory for the third time in June 2019, and commercial imagery took by Planet Labs reveals that North Korea started expanding the missile site soon after that visit. The new building stands among the additions of the site that connected to the one where Kim witnessed preparations for the launch of Hwasong-15 in 2017.
Lewis wrote that the expansion of the truck plant increases its ability to produce trucks for both military and civilian use. Till now, the limited capacity of North Korea to manufacture heavy-duty vehicle chassis has a limitation on the development of a survivable program of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile. The facility expansion may represent a growth in the ability of North Korea to produce local missile launchers and expand its ICBM force.