Recent satellite imagery appears to show “considerable new construction” at a North Korean satellite launch pad, suggesting the regime is continuing work on an missile launch vehicle with “new urgency,” according to an analysis by the North Korean monitoring group 38 North.
The satellite images show that construction has continued on the Sohae Satellite Launch Station in North Pyongang while North Korea is diplomatically engaging with the United States and the rest of the world. North Korea has stated that the launch pad is intended only for its satellite launches, but analysts believe it could also be used to test more advanced missile technology.
The construction at the launch pad includes the possible installation of new structures for testing and the building of a new gantry service tower, which appears to be larger than before and could accommodate a larger rocket engine. 38 North also believes that North Korea may be constructing additional support buildings that may be used for “upgrading operational capability.”
The Sohae facility was used by North Korea to launch a long-range rocket in 2012 and 2016, both of which resulted in an international outcry due to their potential use in developing intercontinental ballistic missiles.