Satellite Images Show North Korea Poised to Test Submarine Missiles Able to Hit U.S.

Despite having several failed missile tests, the rogue North Korean regime is reportedly set to test another missile imminently. However, rather than a land-based ICMB, this would be a missile fired from a submarine; meaning that if a sub were to sail towards the U.S. coast, the missile could hit U.S. soil.

New satellite imagery shows what appears to be a special testing zone in Nampo Naval shipyard in the western region of the totalitarian state. 38North, which monitors military activity in the North Korean region, provided satellite images detailing this activity.

Commercial satellite imagery from April 19 has identified a second submersible test stand barge for North Korea’s submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program at the Nampo Naval Shipyard, located on the country’s west coast. The barge appears identical in size (~9 m by 22.5 m) and layout to the original barge that was first seen in 2014 at the Sinpo South Shipyard on the country’s east coast, which has been involved in at least four, and maybe as many as six, launches of the Pukguksong-1 (KN-11) SLBM since then.

There is one known missile test barge in the North, but the discovery of this second test barge indicates that the regime is more actively pursuing a submarine missile system than first realized.

A key consideration is the timing of the acquisition of the barges. If both were acquired at the same time, it would imply that Pyongyang had planned a more extensive test program than it has so far conducted. However, since the second barge seems to have been acquired three years after the first, this could mean that North Korea is planning to accelerate its SLBM test program to include a west coast component or develop new SLBM designs, or that it may deploy a ballistic missile submarine with the West Sea Fleet. None of these possibilities are mutually exclusive.

The barges are not believed to be made by North Korea. 38North indicates that the machinery was likely made elsewhere and then imported.

The first known test barge is shown here:

38North: Submersible test stand barge seen at the Sinpo South Shipyard.

38North: Submersible test stand barge seen at the Sinpo South Shipyard.

This first test barge is no secret; it has been involved in six missile tests since 2014 alone.

The second, recently discovered test barge is shown here:

38North: A second submersible test stand barge seen on same day at the Nampo Naval Shipyard.

38North: A second submersible test stand barge seen on same day at the Nampo Naval Shipyard.

In further analysis of this finding, The Sun reports that the regime would be pursuing SLMB’s, long range ballistic missiles launched from submarines. With this kind of missile, if the regime is actually able to get them operational, then the U.S. may be within striking distance.

However, the North Korean autocrats have an abysmal track record with technology. Nonetheless, it is important to keep an eye on them.

The authoritarian regime has been ramping up its fiery nuclear rhetoric for months now, as we have been reporting. We will continue to bring you up to date information on these developments as they come in.