Missile Launch Preparations Underway

It has been confirmed and reported in The Dong-A Ilbo today that North Korea is renovating its Musudan-ri missile test facility, located in North Hamkyung Province, and is preparing to test a new long-range missile, an improved version of the Taepodong-2.

According to the Dong-A Ilbo, North Korea recently began renovating its old launching facility for Taepodong missiles in the Musudan-ri missile test facility by replacing old equipment and upgrading other parts.

North Korea test-fired a long-range missile, believed to have been a Taepodong-2, from the Musudan-ri missile test facility on July 5, 2006. The missile failed and landed in the East Sea 42 seconds after the launch.

A government source stated that, “North Korea is improving its missile propulsion system and is in the process of improving launch safety by replacing the tower crane that supports the current launch pad. We have also obtained information that North Korea is extending its facilities for pre-launch missile assembly and final inspection.”

The source also stated that, “It is being assumed that North Korea is replacing old systems with ones that automatically provide propellant to missiles, because they want to either conceal missile launch preparations or to shorten preparation time.”

Intelligence authorities have reportedly confirmed that North Korea is putting a concerted effort into developing long-range ballistic missiles that can reach as far as 10,000km, an extensively improved version of the previous Taepodong-2 missile. It has also been confirmed that North Korea recently replaced the second-level engine of the Taepodong-2 with an upgrade.

The source also confirmed that North Korea has conducted a missile engine ignition test of what appears to be a Taepodong-2 missile at a new long-range missile test facility that is currently being built in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan Province.

The article finally reported that intelligence authorities thus presume that North Korea is taking steps towards testing a new long-range ballistic missile, an improved version of the Taepodong-2.