38 North says that recent commercial satellite imagery from North Korea indicates that work is continuing on a second submersible ballistic missile test stand barge at the Nampo Navy Shipyard on the nation’s west coast.
The Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to analysis on North Korea says the work is a possible sign that North Korea is “expanding the (submarine-launched ballistic missile) test and development program to the west coast.”
Analyst Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. says the development indicates that a sub capable of firing a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) might be deployed with Pyongyang’s West Sea Fleet. The possibility adds to fears that North Korea may eventually deploy subs that can attack South Korea and its allies with nuclear-tipped missiles.
While the actual purpose of the work at Nampo is unclear, Bermudez says the possibilities include: “Refurbishing a recently acquired barge as a step towards expanding the SLBM test and development program to the west coast. This, in turn, would suggest the development of a west coast SLBM infrastructure, research and development of new SLBM designs or the future deployment of a ballistic missile submarine with the West Sea Fleet.”