DPRK upgrades missile tower for possible October launch

World Today

A South Korean soldier stands as a 160-meter (533-foot) tower with DPRK’s flag is seen in the village of Gijungdong near the north side of the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, Wednesday, July 22, 2015. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) has erected a new, taller launch tower at its missile base, possibly in preparation for firing a long-range rocket to mark an important national anniversary in October, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.

The 67-metre (220-ft) tower will be able to accommodate the launch of a longer-range missile than the rocket test-fired in December 2012. That launch was widely considered successful in putting an object into space orbit, the Yonhap report said.

The DPRK is banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions from conducting tests that use ballistic missile technology but has defied international warnings and sanctions to pursue missile and nuclear programs.

“Our assessment is that the North will use the newly upgraded Tongchang-ri (missile) launch pad to launch a long-range missile larger than Unha-3,” Yonhap quoted a South Korean government source as saying.

Unha-3 refers to the long-range rocket fired in 2012 from the base near its west coast.

The launch is likely to come around the 70th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK’s ruling Workers’ Party on Oct. 10, the source was quoted as saying.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry could not immediately confirm the report but an official said they were seeking to verify it.

The DPRK is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) but is seen as years away from deployment. It is also working to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to mount on a delivery vehicle.

Report by Reuters.