GlobalSecurity.Org, an independent research group specialising in security issues, claimed on Thursday that North Korea had established a second test site and launch pad for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
North Korea has established a second test site and launch pad for intercontinental ballistic missiles, an independent analyst who has seen imagery of the site said Wednesday.
"This facility is designed to support a significant flight test program," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.Org, a research group that specializes in security issues.
"It is significant because it indicates an intention to develop a capability of developing a reliable ICBM," he told AFP.
Pike said the missile launch site was discovered on the west coast of North Korea near China by Joseph Bermudez, an analyst at Jane's Intelligence Group.
Pike and Tim Brown, an imagery analyst with Talent-keyhole.com, discovered a smaller launch site for intercontinental ballistic missiles at Musudan-ni on North Korea's east coast in 1999.
"My reaction to it at the time was it was not much to write home about, that it was not something that could support a significant flight test program," Pike said of the earlier find.
North Korea used the east coast site to launch a Taepodong missile in 1998 over Japan. A Taepodong-2 missile was launched from Musudan-ni in 2006, but it failed.
Pike said the new site was much larger, more elaborate and with better transportation connections.
"It is set up to do a launch three of four times a year, rather than every decade," he said.
The facility has a standard test stand, a dynamic test stand and a relatively sophisticated launch pad for intercontinental ballistic missiles or space shots, he said.
Pike, who said Iran has a similar missile launch site, said the main North Korean launch pad appeared still under construction and a year or two away from completion.
Date created : 2008-09-11