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Satellite imagery shows progress in N. Korea's SLBM program

All Headlines 06:21 December 02, 2017

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to be advancing its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program, with indications a second testing platform is being readied for deployment, a U.S. website showed Friday.

38 North, which specializes in North Korea analysis, said commercial satellite imagery from Nov. 11, 16 and 24 show the country's second platform for launching missiles underwater outside of submarines has been moved.

The platform, known as a submersible ballistic missile test stand barge, "is being prepared to enter service, a strong indicator that Pyongyang is advancing its SLBM program," the website said, citing analysis by expert Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

On Nov. 11, the barge was seen positioned on a construction way at the Nampo Navy Shipyard, with a floating dry-dock at the end of the construction way. Five days later the barge was seen aboard the floating dry-dock and towed a short distance to an adjacent pier.

By Nov. 24, the test stand barge had been floated off and positioned near the shipyard's fitting-out deck to apparently undergo finishing touches, such as installation of pumps and communications, before deployment.

"The exact nature of the fitting-out work that will be undertaken on the test stand barge is unclear, as is the date when it will be completed and can be placed into service," the analysis said. "Once in service, this barge will help facilitate a broader SLBM testing regime and potentially establish a SLBM capability within the West Sea Fleet."

North Korea acquired its first submersible ballistic missile test stand barge in 2014, according to the website. It is based at the Sinpo South Shipyard and supports the development of the Pukguksong-1 SLBM and the SINPO-Class experimental ballistic missile submarine.

hague@yna.co.kr
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