Wednesday, 28 October, 2009
North Korea Nuclearbase
North Korea has completed the construction of its largest and most sophisticated missile base on the west coast, laying the groundwork for improved intercontinental ballistic missiles, senior officials here said Monday. The Dongchang-ri base has been under construction for several years, deepening outside concerns that North Korea is continuing to develop its capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction. "The construction is as good as finished," one South Korean official said, asking for anonymity because he was speaking on matters of intelligence. "The necessary facilities are all there" Another official said North Korea has been testing missile parts such as boosters at the site about 200km northwest of Pyongyang and only 70km west of the main nuclear complex in Yongbyon. "It's a leap in North Korea's ballistic missile development," the official said, also speaking on condition of anonymity and adding the construction ended "only recently." Analysts say the Dongchang-ri base is about three times larger than the Musudan-ri site where North Korea launched a long-range rocket in April, claiming that it put a satellite into space. The launch on the east coast drew condemnations worldwide. The U.S. and South Korea denounced it as a thinly veiled test of a Taepodong-2 missile technically capable of reaching the western U.S. Less than a month later, North Korea went ahead with its second nuclear test, triggering U.N. sanctions tougher than those imposed after the first one in 2006. In June, South Korean officials said North Korea transported an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, by train to the Dongchang-ri site from a munitions factory near Pyongyang, fueling tensions already high from the nuclear blast. Nam Sung-wook, who heads a research institute affiliated with South Korea's spy agency, said in July that the Dongchang-ri site would allow for testing of missiles with a range of over 3,000km. The officials said the newest base is for ICBMs, which can fly at least 5,000km. The long-range rocket which the North fired in April is believed to have flown at least 3,000km. North Korea has test-fired a range of short-range and mid-range missiles this year. The country, which has in recent months shown willingness to return to talks on its nuclear program, is believed to have up to 1,000 ballistic missiles, including 700 Scuds.