The South Korean intelligence authority spotted a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile at the site of the North Korean military’s parade exercise at Mirim Airport in Pyongyang, it was reported Friday. It is highly likely that Pyongyang will unveil a new ICBM that is different from its Hwasong-14 and 15 at a military parade on Saturday, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party. The North has not mobilized any ICBM in a military parade since the military parade on its military’s foundation day in February 2018.
The new ICBM, which was spotted at Mirim Airport by U.S. spy satellites and others, is reportedly longer in length and diameter than Hwasong-14 and -15. The intelligence authority judges that the new ICBM could be a model whose range and missile payload are larger than Hwasong-15’s since a transporter erector launcher (TEL) similar to or larger than the nine-axle (18 wheelers) TEL that carries Hwasong-15 has been identified. The authority also suggests that the ICBM could be solid fuel-propelled or multiple-warhead ICBM.
“We have been closely checking the situation of weapons including new ICBMs, which are deployed at the site of military parade exercise, by mobilizing many of the intelligence assets owned by the South Korean and U.S. militaries including spy satellites, unmanned surveillance aircraft Global Hawk, and strategic reconnaissance aircraft,” a source said.
The intelligence authority does not rule out the possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will deliver a speech stressing the need for Washington to withdraw hostile policy towards Pyongyang at the site of the upcoming parade. “While Washington-Pyongyang talks on North Korea’s denuclearization are effectively suspended, if Kim makes provocative remarks after unveiling a new ICBM just a month before the U.S. presidential election, it could significantly affect security environment on the Korean Peninsula,” said a diplomatic source in Seoul.
In addition, a circumstantial situation where a submarine launched ballistic missile was carried on a barge has been reportedly spotted in areas near Sinpo, North Hamkyong Province. The intelligence authorities of Seoul and Washington are keeping close watch on the possibility that Pyongyang mount an SLBM on its existing submarine or new submarine soon to be inaugurated. There is reportedly a slim chance that Pyongyang will launch an ICBM or SLBM timed with the foundation day of the Workers’ Party.