There have been fears within the US and ally South Korea that North Korean troops have been practising for a military parade to celebrate the anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party next month as images taken through Satellite early this month showed people assembled in formation ahead of the 75th anniversary of North Korea’s main party, the Workers’ Party.
North Korea military analysts believe the 75th anniversary may be used to showcase the country’s new missiles.
Also there has been increased activity at the Sinpo South Shipyard weapons base where submarines are built, according to satellite photos.
The activity was also seen at a secure basin where a barge used in previous underwater missile launches is docked.
The Centre for Strategic and International Studies in the US has now revealed that the satellite imagery is “suggestive, but not conclusive, of preparations for an upcoming test of a Pukguksong-3 submarine launched ballistic missile from the submersible test stand barge.”
Won In-choul, the nominee for chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, reacting to the developments, said : “We’re monitoring developments, as there is a possibility that a submarine-launched ballistic missile test will be conducted there using ejection equipment shortly after the repair is done.”
Daily NK, a Seoul-based website that reports on North Korea, also wrote a report saying an unnamed source that stays near the shipyard said the site “is bustling with activity to prepare for the ballistic missile launch.”
A US-based think tank also reported that imagery showed “heavy activity” at the shipyard, but that “no other indicators of launch preparations were observed.”
Senior researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, believe the work being done around the site could just repair after North Korea’s recent tests but they believe the North could carry out a submarine-launched ballistic missile test once repairs are complete.
Last October, North Korea said it had successfully test-fired a Pukguksong-3. Experts say old North Korean underwater-launched missile tests were conducted from a submersible barge with a launch tube, not a fully-fledged submarine.
Seoul’s unification minister Lee In-young said this week: “I hope that communication channels, including the inter-Korean liaison office, can be restored and we can resume open-minded dialogue at an early date.”