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.
Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. is an internationally recognized analyst, award-winning author, and lecturer on North Korean defense and intelligence affairs and ballistic missile development in developing countries. He is concurrently senior fellow for Imagery Analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Security (CSIS); senior adviser and imagery analyst for the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK); author for IHS Markit (formerly the Jane’s Information Group); and publisher and editor of KPA Journal. Formerly, he has served as founder and CEO of KPA Associates, LLC, senior imagery analyst for 38 North at Johns Hopkins SAIS, chief analytics officer and co-founder of AllSource Analysis, Inc., and senior all-source analyst for DigitalGlobe’s Analysis Center.
Victor Cha is a senior adviser and the inaugural holder of the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
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