Photo: KCNA via Reuters

North Korea may be preparing to test a new rocket engine, rather than launching a new satellite, according to an analysis posted on 38 North.

Analysts Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Frank Pabian and Jack Liu noted media reports last week suggesting that North Korea is getting ready to launch a new Kwangmyongsong-5 Earth-observation satellite. But they said in an exclusive article for the specialist website on North Korea that recent commercial satellite imagery shows no indications of readiness for a new satellite launch at Sohae, where all of Pyongyang’s satellite launches have taken place since 2012.

“There are, however, several indicators that suggest preparations for an upcoming rocket engine test at the facility’s vertical engine test stand,” they wrote.

The analysts pointed to specific activity involving specialized equipment, vehicles and facilities at Sohae as indicating that an engine test may be near.

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