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Source: N. Korea May be Preparing Missile Sales

  • Baik Sungwon

Models of a mock North Korea Scud-B missile, center, and other South Korean missiles are displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, March 17, 2013.

Models of a mock North Korea Scud-B missile, center, and other South Korean missiles are displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, March 17, 2013.

North Korea may be firing up its efforts to woo potential foreign buyers for its missiles.

Nick Hansen, an expert on imagery technology and an affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, told VOA's Korean Service that two new buildings at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station could be a missile inspection facility for potential foreign buyers.

“There is the sales aspect that [the North Korean regime] may be still clinging to,” he said.

Hansen recently released an analysis of the latest satellite imagery on 38North.com, a web site devoted to North Korea analysis. The facilities are in the North Korea's western region near the Chinese border.

Based on recent commercial satellite imagery, Hansen wrote, North Korea appears to have "completed a major construction program" at Sohae, which began late last year.

Hansen told VOA the construction of two domed buildings and a nearby concrete pad needs the attention of North Korea watchers.

The buildings were rapidly built this past summer.

While the complex’s purpose remains unclear, the larger building appears to be a conference facility or an auditorium, according to Hansen’s recent analysis.

He also thinks the smaller domed building may serve as an orientation center, while the nearby concrete pad could be used for demonstrations, training or even as a helicopter landing area.

Hansen explained the Sohae Satellite Launching Station has far better facilities than the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground on the country’s northeast coast; and it is possible that Pyongyang is looking to earn foreign currency by renting out the modern facility to other countries.

He also pointed out two 23.5-meter long train cars parked near Sohae. “They could have been used to bring in the rockets,” he said.

Hansen assessed that North Korea is now ready to move forward with another rocket launch and that the most likely candidate remains the Unha-3.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report

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