Analysis, Military, Nuclear Weapons

After Hanoi Summit: Rebuilding of Sohae Launch Facility

Key Findings

  • Commercial satellite imagery acquired on March 2, 2019, shows that North Korea is pursuing a rapid rebuilding of the long-range rocket site at Sohae.
  • This renewed activity, taken just two days after the inconclusive Hanoi summit between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, may indicate North Korean plans to demonstrate resolve in the face of U.S. rejection of North Korea’s demands at the summit to lift five UN Security Council sanctions enacted in 2016-2017.
  • This site has been used in the past for satellite launches, which use ICBM technology banned under UN Security Council resolutions.
  • Activity is evident at the vertical engine test stand and the launch pad’s rail-mounted rocket transfer structure.
  • Significantly, the environmental shelters on the umbilical tower, which are normally closed, have been opened to show the launch pad.
  • This facility had been dormant since August 2018, indicating the current activity is deliberate and purposeful. For additional images see this update.

Sohae (Tongchang-ri) Launch Facility

 


The vertical engine test stand as seen on March 2, 2019 showing the stand partially rebuilt. Among the notable items visible are two construction cranes, several vehicles and supplies laying on the ground. (Copyright © 2019 by DigitalGlobe) (Click each image to view larger size)


The launch pad as seen on March 2, 2019 showing the partially rebuilt rail-mounted rocket transfer structure. Of significance is that the environmental shelters on the umbilical tower, which are normally closed, have been open to show the launch pad and that no rocket is present. (Copyright © 2019 by DigitalGlobe)