A new satellite image of North Korea’s Sinpo South Shipyard shows “unusual movement” of an experimental ballistic missile submarine, which could indicate a future submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test, according to a US monitor.
“Satellite image collected on March 22 shows unusual movement of the 8.24 Yongung (August 24th Hero) experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA) within the secure boat basin,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Beyond Parallel, a project of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, as saying in a report released.
According to the US monitor, the submarine was seen moving out from beneath a canopy that usually covers it.
“The exact purpose for moving the submarine is unknown, but it is likely related to ongoing modifications, continued repair work, preparations for an upcoming submarine-launched ballistic missile SLBM test, a component of a strategic deception plan, or a combination of these and other reasons.
“The 8.24 Yongung plays a critical role in the under-way development of SLBMs, ballistic missile submarine technology, and operational procedures. It is also an indispensable tool for the hands-on training of new submariners,” it added.
North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week, marking the country’s first ICBM launch in more than four years, dating back to November 2017.
Since then, Pyongyang has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing, but stated in January that it may resume all “temporarily suspended activities.”
According to previous reports, the North may be repairing underground tunnels at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site that it allegedly dismantled in 2018, possibly indicating a resumption of nuclear tests.
North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests to date, the most recent in September 2017.