North Korea Launch Pad Seems to Have Gotten Bigger
Which could mean it can now launch longer-range missiles: report
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2015 1:20 PM CDT
In this Dec. 12, 2012, file photo released by the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's Unha-3 rocket lifts off from the Sohae launch pad in Dongchang-ri, North Korea.   (AP Photo/KCNA, File)

(Newser) – Rumors of a new North Korea rocket launch are circulating again as government sources inform Yonhap news agency that the country has almost finished modifiying the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. A taller, 220-foot launch tower—a full 55 feet longer than the previous tower—has been spotted via satellite imagery. "We believe that the North will use the extended gantry in Dongchang-ri [South Korea's name for the site] to fire a long-range missile longer than the Unha-3," the source tells the news agency, referring to the 98-foot missile launched in 2012, its longest-range missile so far. Military and intelligence officials estimate the extended launch pad can handle rockets that can travel more than 8,075 miles.

North Korea has long claimed the site is for a "peaceful satellite launch," per UPI, but South Korean officials are speculating that their adversary is planning "strategically provocative action" for sometime around Oct. 10, which would be the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party, notes Yonhap. "Our military is closely watching and monitoring movements related to North Korea's missile launches, including the construction activity at the Dongchang-ri missile launch site," a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman says. Reuters reports that the Defense Ministry hasn't been able to confirm the launch rumor but is trying to verify it. (Meanwhile, North Korea isn't interested in striking a nuke deal like Iran's.)
 

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