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N. Korea Puts Missile Fueling Facilities Underground

Posted February. 26, 2009 09:49,   


South Korean and U.S. intelligence yesterday said North Korea has significantly improved its facilities for missile launch, with fueling stations built underground at the Taepodong-2 launch base at Musudan-ri in North Hamkyong Province.

Experts said South Korean authorities could find it more difficult to closely monitor signs of an imminent missile launch.

Senior Seoul officials said Pyongyang completed facilities for putting liquid fuel into a missile projectile at an underground space near the launch pad at Musudan-ri between late last year and early this year.

North Korea has been using liquid fuel with trucks or a separate external fueling facility after installing a missile on the standing launch pad. For the launch of the Taepodong-1 in 1998 and Taepodong-2 in 2006, South Korean and U.S. intelligence learned a missile launch was imminent by monitoring a scene of fueling via intelligence satellite.

One intelligence source said, “If liquid fuel is pumped into missile projectiles at underground facilities, the North can dodge U.S. surveillance satellites.”

“The North is now capable of conducting the most important part of a missile launch behind the scenes.”

Another source said, “While building the facilities for putting liquid fuel into missile projectiles underground, North Korea has improved its capacity for related facilities and will likely fuel the projectile in one or two days.”