US institute: NKorea launch site upgrade complete

Construction to upgrade North Korea’s main rocket launch site now appears complete amid expectations in rival South Korea that a launch could take place in October, a U.S. research institute said Tuesday. South Korean officials are predicting the North will mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the ruling communist party with a “strategic

provocation” — possibly a blastoff from the west coast site of Sohae from where Pyongyang launched its first rocket into space in December 2012, drawing international condemnation. The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies says commercial satellite imagery taken July 21 shows Pyongyang has made quick work since spring of constructing a support building on the launch pad where rockets would be prepared. It has also apparently completed a moveable structure on rails, several stories high, that would be used to shift rockets or rocket stages to the launch tower. But the institute says there’s no evidence that launch preparations are yet underway.



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