A U.S. think tank suggests it had spotted activities demonstrating the possibility that North Korea is preparing for a test firing of an intermediate-range submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) at Sinpo Dockyard in North Hamkyong Province. The firing of an SLBM is one of Pyongyang possible provocations, which Seoul and Washington have been paying close attention ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies in the U.S. disclosed this assessment based on its analysis of satellite imagery of Sinpo Dockyard in its report, which was published Friday in “Beyond Parallel,” a portal dedicated to North Korean issues.
“The primary indicator suggesting preparations for a forthcoming Pukguksong-3 SLBM test launch is the presence of several vessels within the secure boat basin – one of which resembles vessels previously used to tow the submersible test stand barge out to sea,” CSIS said in the report. “Some activity within the secure boat basin is suggestive, but not conclusive, of preparations for an upcoming test of a Pukguksong-3 SLBM from the submersible test stand barge based here.”
The North disclosed Pukguksong-3 SLBM in 2017, and test-fired it for the first time in October last year. “Another indicator of a potential forthcoming SLBM test may be the presence of not one, but two ROMEO-class submarines (SS) anchored within the bay of the submarine base on Mayang-do,” the CSIS report said. “These apparent launch preparations might indicate the highly-speculated ‘October surprise.’”