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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

North Korea’s Mysterious New island construction sites.


North Korea’s Mysterious New island construction sites. HT: Thediplomat. By Damen Cook.

Over the past five years, North Korea has constructed several military facilities on small islands surrounding the city of Sohae, a leading missile development and testing site. In some cases, the islands themselves were constructed; what amounted to little more than a pile of sand 20 years ago is a burgeoning military facility today. 

Sohae, a sizeable metropolis on the country’s west coast, has hosted many critical missile tests, including the 2012 and 2016 Kwangmyŏngsŏng satellite launches. It is the prime research and development hub for key intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology. Sohae is expected to host more missile tests in the coming years as North Korea focuses its efforts on ICBM development.
North Korea has built at least five military facilities on islands near Sohae. The islands identified in the infographics below are not uniform in size or geological structure, and their military facilities are not identical to one another. Their missions may likewise be individually distinct. Some of the new facilities may not even be primarily served by Sohae’s military facilities, but by other nearby bases. We have dubbed them the “Sohae islands” because Sohae is the most significant political-military structure nearby.
There is not enough open-source information to confidently determine the mission of these new island structures. Their purpose remains elusive.
The “Sohae islands” may sprout new buildings or host missile tests. The KN-06 air defense system may arrive — on the islands or elsewhere — to defend the city’s critical military infrastructure (and the lives of its inhabitants). Without question, key ICBM components will continue to be tested at Sohae, whether from an island or the Tongch’ang-Dong Launch Facility on the mainland. The city is rising in strategic importance as North Korea focuses more and more of its efforts on mastering ICBM technology. In fact, if North Korea follows through on its recent pseudo-threat to test a new missile every week, all eyes will be turning to Sohae very soon. Read the full story here.
Damen Cook is lead research associate at Strategic Sentinel.

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