North Korean missile launch pad pause

North Korea has stopped construction on a launch pad where intercontinental-range rockets could be tested, an interruption possibly due to recent heavy rains and that could stall completion up to two years.

Despite the setback, however, Pyongyang is also refurbishing for possible future use another existing pad at the same complex that has been used for past rocket launches, according to the analysis of August 29 images provided to reporters by 38 North, the website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

While the renovations don’t mean a launch is imminent, they indicate North Korea is preparing the site for possible future rocket tests, according to the 38 North special report written by Nick Hansen.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, but experts don’t believe Pyongyang has yet mastered the technology needed to shrink a nuclear weapon so it can be mounted onto the tip of a long-range missile

There are worries, however, about North Korea’s rocket and missile programmes. The United States, South Korea and others have said North Korea uses rocket launches, including a failed effort in mid-April, as covers to test banned missile systems that could target parts of the United States. North Korea says recent rocket launches were meant to put peaceful satellites into orbit.

North Korea has repeatedly vowed to push ahead with its nuclear program in the face of what it calls US hostility that makes a “nuclear deterrence” necessary.