Top South Korean officials have said that North Korea has finished construction of a new installation that has the ability to launch more advanced ICBMs, Agence France-Presse reported today (see GSN, June 18).
"The construction is as good as finished," one official in Seoul told the Yonhap News Agency. "The necessary facilities are all there."
It took several years to complete the Dongchang-ri missile site on the nation's west coast. The new base is believed to be larger than the Musudan-ri base on the east coast of North Korea, which was used to launch long-range missiles in 1998, 2006 and this past April (see GSN, April 6).
The most recent long-range missile firing --which Pyongyang asserted was a peaceful rocket launch, and which has been seen as a limited success -- was followed a month later by the country's second nuclear test, which resulted in international recriminations for the North and heightened U.N. Security Council sanctions.
A different official told Yonhap that Pyongyang had been assessing boosters and other missile components at the Dongchang-ri base.
"It's a leap in North Korea's ballistic missile development," the official said.
In November 2008, Seoul's former defense chief said the Dongchang-ri base was capable of firing a missile bigger than North Korea's present Taepodong line. The new site is believed to be built especially for ICBMs with a range of no less than 3,125 miles, said the South Korean officials (Agence France-Presse/Zee News, Oct. 26).