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North Korea razes missile test site, monitoring group 38 North says

10 June 2018

A United States research group monitoring North Korea says that new satellite imagery indicates the country has been razing a missile test stand after announcing a suspension of ballistic missile and nuclear tests in April.

According to 38 North on Wednesday, a stand used for missile ejection tests was demolished at the Iha-ri missile test site in Kusong City in the country's northwest.

Solid-fuel missiles can be fired at shorter notice and more discreetly than those powered by liquid fuel.

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The 30-foot missile makes use of stable gasoline and is reported to be nuclear-capable when it was first check launched in February 2017.

The report added that the demolished facilities may not be an indicator that North Korea had started to suspend its missile programs.

Work to demolish the stand began in the second week of May and was nearly complete in satellite imagery from May 19, according to the website. The missile, with a potential of flying 800-2,500 kilometers, would be short of reaching the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a South Korean military official of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a Hankook Ilbo news report past year.

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Joel Wit, a former State Department official and 38 North editor, said it was a small step meant to signal North Korea's seriousness about halting its long-range missile programs.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Saturday watched the test of a new surface-to-air interceptor guided weapon system, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday, cited by Chosun Ilbo.This was presumed to be a new KN-06 surface-to-air missile the North tested for the first time in April previous year.

Whether there are bigger steps to come remains unclear, he said.

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North Korea is asking the U.S. to end "hostile policies" towards North Korea in exchange for denuclearisation, though Kim has not yet made it clear exactly what either of those steps would entail.

North Korea razes missile test site, monitoring group 38 North says