More on North Korea’s Missile Test Sites

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

Following up on 38 North’s recent assessment concluding that there were no changes to the Sohae (Tongchang-ri) Satellite Launch Facility, further analysis shows that there have been no alterations or activity akin to dismantlement to any of the six known launch and engine test facilities and two ejection test stands, including:

  • Chamjin (Tae-sung) Machine Factory test stand[1]
  • Iha-ri Driver Training and Test Facility test stand
  • Magunpo Solid Rocket Motor Test Facility
  • Nampo Shipyard submersible test stand barge
  • Sinpo South Shipyard submersible test stand barge
  • Sinpo South Shipyard test stand
  • Sohae (Tongchang-ri) Satellite Launch Facility
  • Tonghae (Musudan-ri) Satellite Launch Facility

Of these facilities and test stands, it is likely that President Trump’s comment on June 12 regarding the destruction of a “…major missile engine testing site” was not referring to either the Iha-ri test stand—which was razed in May—or the Sinpo South Shipyard test stand that has not been used in approximately a year. And contrary to the president’s statement, both sites have been solely used for ejection tests, not engine tests or launches.

Figure 1. The Iha-ri Driver Test and Training Facility’s missile test stand.

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Figure 2. Sinpo South Shipyard’s missile test stand.

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Out of the remaining six facilities, there are the Tonghae (Musudan-ri) Satellite Launch Facility—which has been in caretaker status since 2013—the Nampo Shipyard submersible test stand barge that does not appear operational yet, and the Sinpo South Shipyard submersible test stand barge that has also not been used in years.

Figure 3. Tonghae Satellite Launch Facility’s vertical engine test stand.

Pleaides © CNES 2018, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]

Figure 4. Nampo Navy Shipyard’s submersible test stand barge.

Image © 2018 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]

Figure 5. Sinpo South Shipyard’s secure boat basin.

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This leaves the Chamjin Missile Factory test stand, the Magunpo Solid Rocket Motor Test Facility and the Sohae (Tongchang-ri) Satellite Launch Facility. While the Chamjin Missile Factory Test Stand has been updated but not used in the past two years, it would not represent a major concession or a serious impediment to the North Koreans or their ballistic missile program. However, the razing of the Magunpo Solid Rocket Motor Test Facility or components of the Sohae (Tongchang-ri) Satellite Launch Facility would suggest significant developments and could present meaningful first steps in reducing the North Korean ballistic missile threat.

Figure 6. Chamjin (Tae-sung) machine factory’s vertical engine test stand.

Pleaides © CNES 2018, Distribution Airbus DS. For media options, please contact [email protected]

Figure 7. Test stands at Magunpo Solid Rocket Motor Test Facility.

Image © 2018 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]

Figure 8. Sohae satellite launch facility’s vertical engine test stand.

Image © 2018 DigitalGlobe, Inc. All rights reserved. For media licensing options, please contact [email protected]

  1. [1]

    Sometimes identified as the “Chamjin Missile Factory.”


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