North Korea Expanding Launch Site

Satellite images reveal upgrades to Musudan-ri
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2012 2:13 AM CDT
Updated May 23, 2012 2:57 AM CDT
North Korea Expanding Launch Site
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the Musudan-ri rocket launch site in northeastern North Korea.    (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

North Korea appears to be preparing to launch larger rockets, according to an analysis of satellite images conducted by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. The institute believes the country is upgrading its Musudan-ri launch site to handle rockets big enough for space launch vehicles or intercontinental missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, AP reports. The new facilities, including an expanded launch pad and a rocket assembly, should be operational by 2016, according to the institute.

"This major upgrade program, designed to enable Musudan-ri to launch bigger and better rockets far into the future, represents both a significant resource commitment and an important sign of North Korea's determination," says the editor of the institute's website. North Korea has vowed to press ahead with its nuclear program, despite warnings from the US and China. But its last rocket launch was a high-profile failure, and analysts believe that the "powerful new missiles" unveiled at a military parade last month were fakes. (More North Korea stories.)

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