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North Korea Looks To Be Gearing Up For More Sub-Launched Missile Tests

Satellite images of North Korea suggest that the reclusive regime may be preparing for additional submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) tests.

Commercial satellite images show a second submersible testing barge at Nampo Naval Shipyard. The other is located at Sinpo South Shipyard, where North Korea has conducted at least four, but possibly more, tests of the Pukguksong-1 (KN-11) SLBM, Joseph Bermudez Jr., an analyst for independent research site 38 North, explained in a new report.

(This first appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation Site here.)  

Sinpo is located on the east coast, and Nampo is situated on the west coast of the country.

The submersible barges were first detected in 2014. These submersibles allow the North to test SLBMs and relevant launch systems before they are installed on a submarine. Pyongyang’s new Gorae-class submarines are the most likely candidate for the missile deployment. The barges resemble old Russian PSD-4 test stands.

It is unclear whether Pyongyang built or acquired the barge. There is no satellite imagery indicating barge construction on the west coast, which suggests the submersible barge was brought in from abroad, Bermudez concludes.

The report suggests that “North Korea is planning to accelerate its SLBM test program to include a west coast component or develop new SLBM designs.” North Korea may also choose to “deploy a ballistic missile submarine with the West Sea Fleet.” Bermudez explains that these options are not mutually exclusive.

North Korea successfully tested the Pukguksong-1 last August. A reliable SLBM could potentially offer the North a powerful sea-based nuclear deterrent against the U.S. and its allies.

North Korea’s submarine fleet is being modified, as the older units are outdated and anti-submarine warfare units could easily detect them.

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