“Unusual Activity” at NK Ballistic Missile Site
“The activity has prompted concerns Pyongyang is planning a new round of ballistic missile tests of either medium or longer range missiles,” the unnamed officers said. But CNN added, “The activity is in its early stages and it’s not yet possible to determine what the North Koreans are doing.” The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday said, “We haven’t confirmed reports of signs of North Korea preparing for a missile launch in Shinori.”
The North has never launched a Nodong ballistic missile from a west coast facility. Public preparation for a launch from a west coast site could be a factor in the provocative military actions off the west coast and the bellicose rhetoric. For example, a surprise launch form the west coast into international waters would be much more provocative and dangerous than one that occurred after the North had already ratcheted tension. In launching the North’s leaders would set a new precedent for medium range ballistic missile launches off the west coast as well as register their dissatisfaction with South Korea, or the Six Party Talks or a rejection of the Singapore tentative agreement, if that occurs.
A Nodong missile launch would lack the dramatic impact of an ICBM-scale launch, but it is one of the many tactics the North’s leaders can order to draw international attention.