Photos indicate N. Korea using airport as alternate launch facility
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea used an airport on its east coast for a missile launch earlier this summer and will likely use it again for future tests, a U.S. think tank says.
Pyongyang said a missile launched June 22 flew as high as 870 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan, raising fears the communist country is making technical progress on its ballistic missile program after several failures.
State-run media published photos of the launch, which was reportedly observed by leader Kim Jong Un, but did not give the launch location.
The 38 North — a website run by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies that monitors North Korean activities — said Friday that a comparison of ground photos and commercial satellite images from June 17 “clearly identifies the test as having taken place” at a recently constructed firing position on the east side of the former Wonsan air base, which is in the final stages of being converted into a modern civilian airport.
“It is likely that North Korea will continue to use both this new location and its companion facility on the Hodo Peninsula … for live-fire artillery, rocket and missile tests, with the [airport] location being used primarily for highly publicized events and the Hodo facility for more routine testing and training,” the report said.
Firing exercises and missile tests previously occurred from improvised positions on the beach, but a new firing position for mobile-launch vehicles has been built about 820 feet from an observation building at the facility, the analysis said.
North Korea has test-fired numerous missiles despite U.N. sanctions imposed after it conducted a nuclear test and launched a long-range rocket earlier this year.