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Activities resume on NK naval shipyard, SLBM demonstration should not be ruled out: think tank

Minor activity has resumed at a submersible test stand barge at Nampo Naval Shipyard in North Korea, and there is the possibility that Pyongyang might test a submarine-launched ballistic missile before its year-end deadline, a US-based think tank said Sunday.

Satellite imagery collected in the last several months indicate that minor activity has resumed as of Dec. 2, after a two-month hiatus since September, said Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha of Beyond Parallel, a team that specializes in North Korea issues at the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

(Screen captured from Parallel Beyond)
(Screen captured from Parallel Beyond)

While the movements do not signal an imminent SLBM launch, the submersible test stand barge is likely capable of conducting one “at any time,” the analysts explained.

“Despite this, readiness of the test stand barge indicates that a SLBM demonstration should not be ruled out as a potential upcoming demonstration with just over two weeks left in the DPRK’s professed end-of-year diplomacy deadline,” the analysts said, using the acronym for the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

After his second summit with US President Donald Trump broke down without any agreement in Vietnam in February, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for the US to come up with a new “creative” proposal, setting the end of the year as the deadline for their denuclearization negotiations.

By Jo He-rim (