The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday that analysis of satellite images by a private-sector watchdog group suggests North Korea recently completed expanding one of its most important missile manufacturing plants, a development that casts some doubt on Pyongyang’s enthusiasm for dismantling its nuclear and missile programs
The new analysis comes from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, and is based on satellite photos provided by Planet Labs Inc. of San Francisco. The facility in question is called the Chemical Material Institute of Hamhung.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un sketched out plans to expand the Hamhung facility during a visit in August, and those expansions now appear to be completed, even though construction did not begin in earnest until after Kim’s landmark summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April. A more modest amount of work appears to have been completed at two nearby missile production facilities as well.
“The expansion of the production infrastructure for North Korea’s solid-fuel missile infrastructure probably suggests that Kim Jong Un does not intend to abandon his nuclear and missile programs,” said researcher David Schmerler of the Middlebury Institute’s Center for Nonproliferation Studies.