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Satellite Photos Show Activity at North Korea Launch Site

North Korea is upgrading its main rocket launch site and has conducted a series of rocket engine tests, a U.S. research institute said Tuesday.
/ Source: Associated Press

North Korea is upgrading its main rocket launch site and has conducted a series of engine tests as it develops a mobile, intercontinental missile that could increase the threat it poses to the United States, a U.S. research institute said Tuesday. The findings are based on satellite photos of the west coast site of Sohae, analyzed by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

North Korea blasted a rocket into space from site a year and a half ago, and the photos indicate it has made significant, recent progress upgrading facilities at Sohae to handle bigger rockets. A launch tower has been expanded to handle rockets 65 feet (20 meters) higher than the 98-foot-long (30-meter-long) Unha 3 rocket that blasted off in December 2012. The flurry of activity comes as North Korea has been test-firing short-range missiles from elsewhere, drawing U.N. Security Council condemnation on July 15. The North fired another short-range missile into waters off its east coast on Saturday.

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— The Associated Press