News / Asia

US Expert: North Korea Speeds Up Missile Launch Times

FILE - A satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea.
FILE - A satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, North Korea.
Sungwon Baik

North Korea can fire long-range missiles significantly faster, following upgrades to its launch sites, a U.S. expert has observed.

Satellite imagery analyst Nick Hansen told the VOA Korean Service this week that improvements at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station on the Yellow Sea had cut two weeks off a process that used to take 45 days.

Pyongyang does not appear likely to be fire long-range missiles anytime soon. Through images he purchases from satellite companies, the Johns Hopkins University researcher said ongoing construction at the facility would likely make it inoperable for several more months.

But Thursday, South Korea said North Korea test-fired projectiles into the Sea of Japan.

Shortly after the launches, the North called a South Korean live-fire drill near a contested maritime boundary "a grave military provocation."

There is no word on what type of projectile was fired or if the launches were a test of a new weapon.

Earlier this year, North Korea fired multiple rockets, including medium-range missiles, during large scale U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises.

Thursday's launches coincided with widespread speculation that Pyongyang may be preparing to conduct its fourth underground nuclear weapon test, in violation of U.N. resolutions.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said earlier this year North Korea has expanded the size of its Yongbyon uranium enrichment facility and restarted a reactor used for plutonium production.

Clapper said the North's nuclear weapons and missile programs "pose a serious threat" to the United States and Asia, noting  Pyongyang is committed to developing a missile that can strike the U.S. mainland.

This story was produced in collaboration with VOA's Korean Services.

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Comment on this forum (1)
Comments
     
by: 1worldnow from: Earth
June 27, 2014 2:27 AM
Doesn't this just crack everyone up! I mean, UN resolutions violations? NK is obviously scared about the UN. Will somebody please tell the UN to pull it's head out of the sand, for at least a few minutes, to see what is going on in the world today? I know, the UN is stubborn. Take a cattle prod and poke it on the UN's butt, that will make the UN's head pop up. Help the UN brush the sand off it's head, maybe a double-espresso latte........ Just don't mention that Russia is causing the ruin of Ukraine, it'll just send the UN into a panic-attack!

Have no fear people, the UN is on it! They will pass more resolutions on NK, that they will continue to ignore, and NK will keep responding: "UN,.......how do you spell that again?"

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