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Secret Nuclear Sites of DPRK? Or is Everything Visible from Above?

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Since 2018, North Korea has continued to adhere to its moratorium on nuclear, and medium- and long-range missile tests. This has created an impression that DPRK’s missile and nuclear weapons program has been put on hold. Still, analysts have been asking whether this is actually the case and the answer tends to depend on their political bias. Naturally, those who have come to perceive Pyongyang as an Evil Empire believe that North Korea has not stopped working on such projects and is continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction. Within US expert circles, aside from holding such opinions, analysts linked with the Democratic party typically seek ways to show how politically incompetent Donald Trump is. In fact, any of their statements about successes made on the North Korean front actually imply that Donald Trump is being deceived but does not realize this.

Such ideological blinders further restrict the limited capabilities of these “Pyongyang experts”. Analyzing satellite images is essentially the only means they use to learn what is happening in the DPRK. But it is impossible to see everything from up above. Therefore, analysts end up basing their assumptions on a politicized interpretation of information, i.e. if a building can theoretically house a missile, it must be meant for that very purpose.

This, in turn, generates sensational stories about yet another secret site linked to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program being located. Such reports are often published by Beyond Parallel, an analytic vehicle funded by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) or 38 North, currently a project of the Henry L. Stimson Center (formerly a program of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies).

On August 28, 2019, Beyond Parallel wrote that their latest satellite images provided “circumstantial evidence of the construction of a new ballistic missile submarine and preliminary evidence of possible preparations for a test” in the DPRK. Photographs of Sinpo South Shipyard showed “support vessels and a crane” suggesting “possible preparations, based on past practice, to tow the missile test stand barge out to sea for an SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) test flight”. And although the authors of the article stated that there was “no conclusive evidence” that the preparation were nearing completion, media outlets reported that as an evidential fact.

On September 5, 2019, experts of........

© New Eastern Outlook