North Korea alert: Satellite images reveal terrifying new World War 3 threat
And the revelation, made just days after the expiration of a deadline set by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un for the US to ease sanctions on his country, after which he has warned he will resume nuclear tests, has sparked fears of a fresh spike in tensions in the region as 2020 gets underway. Meanwhile US President Donald Trump has admitted he cannot rule out the possibility of a return to the 2017 situation, which saw North Korea stage a large number of tests in defiance of the international community.
While concealed to visible imaging satellites, recent SAR imagery revealed the presence of the North Korean SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine
38 North analysis
With the world’s eyes focused on possible retaliation by Iran after the US air strike which killed senior commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, the 38 North analysis has offered a timely reminder that the potential for conflict centred on the Korean peninsula remains significant.
Authors Jack Liu and Peter Makowsky used Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery to uncover previously unnoticed details relating to the base, located in a city on the Hermit State’s east coast in South Hamgyong province.
They wrote: “While concealed to visible imaging satellites, recent SAR imagery revealed the presence of the North Korean SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA) and its submersible test stand barge positioned beneath a recently constructed, dockside awning designed to conceal and environmentally protect these vessels.
“The secure boat basin at the North Korean Sinpo South Shipyard is where the experimental submarine and its submersible launch barge are usually docked.
“When present, these vessels had been readily visible to imaging satellites until a linear awning was erected along the quay, covering their normal berthing positions, thus frequently obscuring their presence or absence.”
The issue of denuclearisation remains unresolved despite three face-to-face meetings between Mr Trump and Kim.
Voicing his frustration over stalled nuclear talks, Kim warned of unspecified “shocking” action and said his country would soon reveal a new “strategic weapon” to the world as its bolstered its nuclear deterrent in face of “gangster-like” US pressure.
In comments published in state media on New Year’s Day, Kim also said North Korea was no longer obliged to maintain a self-imposed suspension on the testing of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, which President Donald Trump has touted as a major diplomatic accomplishment.
However, he gave no clear indication a resumption of such tests was impending and appeared to leave the door open for eventual negotiations.
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Kim has used the diplomatic stalemate to expand his military capabilities by intensifying tests of shorter-range weapons.
His arsenal is now estimated to include 40-50 nuclear bombs and various delivery systems, including solid-fuel missiles designed to beat missile-defence systems, and developmental ICBMs potentially capable of reaching the US mainland.
Last month, Pyongyang warned Washington of a possible “Christmas gift” after Kim gave the United States until the end of the year to propose new concessions in talks over his country’s nuclear arsenal.
Mr Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington after a two-week stay in Florida: “I don’t think he’d break his word to me, but maybe he will.”
The New York billionaire – who in 2018 became the first sitting US president to meet with a North Korean leader – said after Kim’s comments that the North Korean leader had signed a denuclearisation contract and Trump thought Kim was a “man of his word.”
Speaking with reporters last week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said the alert status of American forces was at a sufficient level to respond to anything that happens and military defensive capabilities were adequate to defend the United States.
On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States was ready to use force against North Korea if necessary.
However, he still regarded a political agreement on denuclearisation as the best path forward.
In an interview with Fox News, Mr Esper said: “We would urge restraint by Kim Jong Un.”
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