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NK Moves ICBM to Missile Base on West Coast

Posted June. 01, 2009 08:03,   


North Korea has reportedly moved a long-range missile that it says it will test-launch soon following its second nuclear test to a new place.

The intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000 kilometers was moved from a military research center in Sanumdong near Pyongyang and is known to be headed for a base in Musudan-ri, North Hamkyong Province.

South Korean and U.S. intelligence officials say the missile is highly likely to be transported to a newly built long-range missile base in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il will reportedly visit areas near the base early this month, so South Korean and U.S. intelligence are on high alert.

A Washington source familiar with the issue said yesterday, “A train carrying the North’s new ICBM is confirmed to have departed from a train station near the Sanumdong research center nearby Pyongyang. But it disappeared from a spy satellite’s view,” adding, “It is certain the train didn’t go to the Musudan-ri base.”

Given that the North has only two long-range missile bases -- one in Musudan-ri and the other in Tongchang-ri --, chances are that the missile was transported to the Tongchang-ri base, according to intelligence authorities.

A Seoul source said last Friday he agreed with the speculation, saying, “The ICBM the North is now moving on a trailer is thought to be a revamped Taepodong-2 missile,” adding, “Though we cannot give detailed information, the North might not launch the missile from the Musudan-ri base.”

“We should note that the construction of the Tongchang-ri base is almost complete. The launch will most likely happen in mid-June, when South Korea and the U.S. will hold a high-level summit. The North can also choose July 4, U.S. Independence Day.”

A high-ranking Seoul official said Saturday, “A long-range missile mounted on three freight train cars was recently spotted at the Sanumdong military research center,” adding, “We’re sure that it’s an intercontinental ballistic missile.”

Another Washington source said Kim Jong Il is likely to visit Tongchang-ri or vicinity early this month. This is fueling speculation that the reclusive leader will inspect the missile base.

In September last year, the South Korean Defense Ministry said the North was building a new long-range missile base in Tongchang-ri, with construction 80 percent complete.

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