Strategic Weapons: The Tunnels Of Musudan-ri


March 2, 2009: North Korea has built a new ballistic missile launch pad, at Musudan-ri on the northeast coast, with an underground fueling system that makes it much easier to prepare one of their multistage ballistic missiles for launch. Prep time can be reduced from 4-5 days to 1-2 days. Previously, the missile would be surrounded by fuel trucks, special equipment and technical personnel before launch. But now most of that is hidden from view. Thus, with so much of the launch preparation underground, space satellites see less obvious signs of an impending launch. The Musudan-ri facility was completed in the last month.

UN resolutions discourage further North Korean missile launches, as do the major donors of food and other aid. Nearly a quarter of the North Korean population is starving or malnourished, and the rest of the world considers it unseemly that the North Korean government should be devoting so many scarce resources to a new missile launching facility. But North Korea considers it a "sovereign right" to launch ballistic missiles whenever it wants to. Feeding its population is considered a less urgent "sovereign right".


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