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Satellite Snaps Reveal North Korea’s Secret Missile Base Expansions

Daniel Kim Views  

Korean Central News Agency·Yonhap News

Washington-based think tank assessed that North Korea appears to have consistently improved its facilities at several missile bases over the past five years to enhance troop living conditions and strengthen readiness postures.

The North Korea-focused website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Beyond Parallel announced on the 10th that it detected various changes after analyzing satellite images of areas suspected to be North Korean missile operating bases such as Hoejung-ni Missile Operating Base in Chagang Province, Kalgol Missile Operating Base in South Hwanghae Province, and Kumchon-ni Missile Operating Base in Gangwon Province.

The site claimed that these bases are part of the approximately 15 to 20 North Korean ballistic missile bases and support facilities, which North Korea has never publicly disclosed.

The Hoejung-ni Missile Operating Base appears to have started constructing a building approximately 18m X 20m (59 ft X 66 ft) across the river from the entrance to the second underground facility around August 2023. However, the purpose of the underground facility and this building has not been confirmed.

The Kalgol Missile Operating Base was found to have created five semi-circular areas of 31m X 20m (102 ft X 66 ft) on the west side of the command post between November 5 and 26, 2022. Considering the size, location, and timing of the areas, CSIS suggested that they are likely spaces for a missile unit to conduct transporter erector launcher (TEL) training during the winter. November 2022 was one of the months when North Korea conducted the most missile launch tests.

Furthermore, this base demolished the main entrance and checkpoint around May 2023 and built two new buildings to replace them on the east side. Between September and October 2023, they replaced a bridge on the west side of the entrance with a concrete one capable of accommodating more weight and vehicles. From the second half of 2021 to 2024, a large construction project was carried out to demolish all the residential buildings in the nearby villages of Oya-dong and Kalgol and rebuild them.

Due to flooding, the Kumchon-ni Missile Operating Base moved its main access route about 328 yards to the east, where a newly built concrete bridge and paved road are located, between May 2022 and May 2023. Nine residential buildings that started construction in 2022 are now almost complete, and one building was added in the center of the base between 2022 and 2024.

CSIS added that the construction carried out over the past five years is typically focused on replacing outdated housing and improving food availability, indicating a concerted effort to continue improving the quality of life and morale of the Strategic Force troops and their families.

However, the site analyzed that these changes, which occurred at several ballistic missile bases, seem to be efforts by Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea, to enhance the status of the Strategic Force and strengthen readiness postures to boost troop morale.

Meanwhile, North Korea established the Strategic Rocket Forces as a military organization overseeing missile power on July 3, 1999. The Strategic Forces, a separate fourth organization from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, is known to have organized 13 missile brigades.

Mainly, as North Korea has focused on nuclear and missile development programs, the political and military weight of the Strategic Forces within the entire military is observed to have increased.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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