This close up satellite image captured on February 22, 2019 shows vehicle activity at the Sanumdong missile assembly center located on the outskirts of Pyongyang, North Korea
Source: Daily Mail
Earlier this week North Korea sparked outrage after satellite images revealed the nation was ‘rapidly rebuilding’ its Sohae Launch Facility, a long-range missile launch site.
New images reveal activity may have also resumed at a second site near Pyongyang, known as Sanumdong, where intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellite-launching rockets are assembled.
The shocking photos, captured by DigitalGlobe on February 22, show cars and trucks parked near the facility, rail cars ready to go, and two erected cranes.
This image shows rail cars outside of the facility as if ready to transport something and two erected cranes, fueling suspicions that North Korea is preparing for a potential launch
On February 22 and March 8 activity was seen at the Sanumdong missile production site in North Korea (site pictured above). This is the second missile site where activity has been noticed this week
‘When you put that all that together, that’s really what it looks like when the North Koreans are in the process of building a rocket,’ Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California said to NPR.
However he adds it’s not clear if the isolated country is preparing a military missile or a rocket to carry a civilian satellite into space.
It’s also not clear just when a launch date will be.
Additional images of Sanumdong snapped on Friday by the company Planet shows that there’s less vehicle activity on the site and one crane has disappeared. It could mean workers have paused their efforts on a missile or rocket or could be waiting for other parts to arrive on site.
‘According to Planet imagery, I can definitely say the train has left the station. But I can’t unfortunately use X-ray vision to see what’s on the train and tell whether it’s a civilian space launch vehicle or a military ICBM,’ North Korea expert Melissa Hanham said.
Prior to Kim Jong-Un and Trump’s failed Vietnam talks, North Korean officials had said they were planning to launch two satellites, according to Lewis.
He added that Kim had visited the Sanumdong site at the end of 2017 to prepare for those launches.
‘We know that a space launch was a thing that the North Koreans were talking about doing,’ Lewis said.
On March 2 construction operations were noticed at the Sohae Launch Site (above) just days after the collapse of President Trump and Kim Jong Un’s summit
Two cranes and a series of apparent trailers have been pictured at the site, adding to the suggestion a construction work force are currently operating at the facility
‘I think U.S. foreign policy has been far too obsessed with North Korean space launches,’ he added.
However, the a State Department official warned that the U.S. would regard any launch into space as a violation of Trump and Kim’s good relationship.
‘Let me just say, in our judgment, launch of a space launch vehicle from [Sohae] in our view would be inconsistent with the commitments that the North Koreans have made,’ the official told reporters on Thursday.
The Sohae Launch Facility, which the country uses to launch satellites into orbit and other technologies to aid its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICMB) program, had previously been partly dismantled after the two leader’s first meeting last summer.
The Sohae Launch Facility satellite images were taken on March 2, just days after the Hanoi summit’s collapse, showing that the site is back under construction.
However, two days on from the stalemate in Hanoi, Satellite images captured on March 2 show operations at the once-dormant Sohae site have resumed full-throttle – with its facilities once again under construction.
Two cranes have been pictured at the site – also known as Tongchang-ri – where new walls and a new roof has been added to the launch pad.
Efforts are also being made to to rebuild the rail-mounted building and engine test sight were new roofing has been installed and other construction materials can be seen stacked nearby.
Possible trailers have also been cited in the satellite imagery, adding to the suggestion a construction work force are likely operating at the facility.