Underground military factories in North Korea expanded to hide nuclear arsenal

Reports indicate that a project that was initiated four years ago in Chagang Province to expand important underground military factories has recently been completed. The alleged purpose of the site is to conceal information regarding the movement and launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“The construction began on January 8, 2014, in response to guidance from Chairman Kim that was sent out to the Second Economic Committee (central coordinating body of the North’s military-defense industry), the Korean People’s Army, the Ministry of People’s Security, and the Chagang Provincial Party Committee. The project was completed at the beginning of April,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on July 5.

According to the source, the military factories that have been connected underground include the Kanggye Chemical Weapons Factory No. 361, Kanggye General Tractor Plant No. 26, Kanggye General Machine Plant No. 93 and the Songgang 11 Electric Wire Factory. The Kanggye Kongin-dong Branch Factory is also thought to be linked to the site.

The majority of North Korean military factories are concentrated in Chagang Province for strategic reasons, an area that is 90% mountainous terrain and located next to China’s Jilin Province. Although the region has long been classified off-limits due to its integral role in the munitions industry, security and secrecy surrounding the area has increased following the formal declaration of Chagang Province as a “Special Songun (military-first) Revolutionary Zone.” 

After the completion of the major tunnels, the Pyongyang-based source reported that Kim Jong Un visited the site and expressed great satisfaction with the results. During the trip, Kim took an unpublicized commemorative photo with the 25th Brigade commander, and scientists and technicians that were involved in the project.

“The purpose of the site is to serve as a base ordnance depot for ICBMs, building on the capability to respond to provocations from foreign powers in a modern warfare environment,” he explained, adding that emphasis was placed on the “absolute need for the creation of a space to be able to safely store nuclear warheads and their launchers.”

A separate source in Chagang Province said that through the completion of the underground expansions, North Korea has attained the capability to launch an ICBM within 3-7 minutes of receiving orders from the Supreme Commander (Kim Jong Un).

He said that as North Korea is well aware of the danger of a preemptive attack by the United States due to the ability of US satellites to pinpoint the locations of nuclear missiles and other weapons in real-time. It appears that the country has responded by using methods to conceal its nuclear arsenal in places where it is difficult for satellites to observe.  

“It has become possible for a missile to be launched without revealing any details about the time, location, or logistics to foreign intelligence,” he concluded.

*Translated by Brian Boyle