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North Korea Spy Pictures Reveal Lies

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THE TIMES   (London)


A PRIVATELY launched spy satellite has revealed what
American Intelligence has kept secret for years - that North
Korea's only operational missile test centre is a primitive facility
consisting of a "shed, a dirt road, a launch pad and a rice

North Korea's answer to the Kennedy Space Centre is so
basic, according to the high resolution photographs taken of the
Nodong facility, that missile experts in the United States
dismissed Washington's fears that the rogue nation now posed
a serious threat to America's security.

The pictures of the secret North Korean missile site on the east
coast of the country were taken by Space Imaging Inc, a
company in Colorado. The firm built the world's first private
spy satellite and markets its photographs.

America's highly secretive National Reconnaissance Office,
which controls US intelligence spy satellite photography, has
taken numerous pictures of the Nodong base but has never
released the results. Now, with a private company able to take
the same pictures, the North Korean missile base can be seen
to lack some of the main requirements for a comprehensive
testing facility, such as proper roads, storage for propellant and
accommodation for scientists and engineers. The pictures were
published yesterday in The New York Times.

John Pike, director of the Federation of American Scientists, a
private organisation in Washington that bought the pictures
from the space company in Denver, Colorado, said: "These
photographs make a nonsense of American foreign policy,
which has been dominated in recent years by the perceived
ballistic missile threat from North Korea.

"All you can see is a shed, a dirt road, a launch pad and rice
paddy. They don't seem to have any permanent tracking facility
or any accommodation for launch crews. It's a temporary
encampment from where you could launch the odd missile but
not carry out a real test programme." Mr Pike added that the
US carried out "dozens" of missile tests before deciding
whether a weapon system was reliable. Yet US foreign policy
was based on the fear that North Korea might attack
American territory.

He said that Washington was prepared to tear up the
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to spend billions of dollars
on building a defence system to counter the North Korean
threat, yet the Nodong site, he claimed, could not support a test
programme for the three types of Taepodong missiles being

However, senior Western military sources said that, although
the Nodong site might be primitive, North Korea still had the
technology to launch ballistic missiles. "They can still go bang,"
one source said.

Frank Gaffney, a former senior Pentagon official and now
director of the Centre for Security Policy, a private research
body in Washington, told The New York Times: "I'd be
surprised if the base were anything but modest - North Korea
can't feed its own people - but if crude will do, then we're fools
to ignore capabilities that have the potential to do us grave

Paul Beaver, of Jane's Information Group, said it was possible
that there were underground facilities at the Nodong site and
that the North Koreans were also "good at camouflage", but he
was concerned whether all the hype by Washington about the
missile threat posed by the North Koreans might be a way of
persuading Japan to help to fund the proposed defence system.

The Nodong launch facility first became an issue of concern
for Washington in the 1990s. A single test flight of the Nodong
1 missile was carried out in May 1993. Five years later the
1,000-mile range Taepodong 1 was launched in what was
claimed to be an attempt to orbit a small satellite. Preparations
began for the launch of a longer range Taepodong 2 last year,
but North Korea agreed to end testing in exchange for aid.
Another version is under development.

Copyright 2000 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Space Imaging Inc
Emerging missile programmes
Declassified intelligence satellite photographs
Images for sale

North Korea's Missiles



Dateline: August 11, 1999

On Wall Street a common piece of
advice says, "Buy on the rumors, sell
on the news." Basically this means that
a stock's price will go up when good
news is rumored. By the time the good
news becomes an official
announcement, the stock's value isn't
going to go up much further. So the
smart investor can make a lot of
money in between the rumor and the

"After all, North
Korea, crazy and
malevolent though it
may be, offers little
real threat."

--Boston Globe
columnist Jonathan

Something like this is happening in regard to world opinion about
the possibility of another long-range missile test by North Korea.

The rumors about a new test began a couple of weeks ago.
South Korea, Japan, the United States, and others quickly
issued the usual comments deploring the tests and berating the
North Koreans for destabilizing the region. But now that the
news of a test seems imminent, some officials and analysts are
re-thinking just how to respond to North Korea:

When asked about the potential US response to North
Korean missile tests, US State Department spokesman
James Rubin said, "We've taken the view that we think
that regardless of what serious consequences there might
be for the potential for the US-North Korean
development, if the North Koreans test we shouldn't cut
off our nose to spite our face." (Press Briefing, 8/2/99)

A commentary from says, "In fact, the more
attention is paid to the North Korean missile program, the
more useful a tool it becomes for Pyongyang, and the
more likely the continued missile tests. Japan, South
Korea, the U.S. and others have apparently evaluated
North Korea’s missile program as both a military and a
diplomatic threat, and determined that the latter is far
greater than the former. One erratic ICBM every several
months does not a strategic missile program make."

Writing in the Boston Globe, columnist Jonathan Powers
theorized, "In all likelihood, this planned launch is just
another attempt by the beleaguered regime in North
Korea to bludgeon the West into paying it another bribe.
The blackmailer, once successful, always returns for

The DPRK Report from the Northeast Asia Peace and
Security Network says, "North Korean interlocutors do
not hide the fact that 'the missile card' could be quite
useful in their bargaining with Washington. They argue that
'If Americans are afraid of our missiles, let them conclude
a peace treaty with the DPRK, lift economic sanctions,
and do other things to demonstrate their sincerity and
friendship. Then, the DPRK may reconsider its missile

For more details on North Korea, the missile tests and US
involvement, check out these resources: has deep analysis of the problems--and
potential consequences of those problems--on the Korean

The Federation of American Scientists offers this guide to
North Korea's special weapons.

KCNA is the official news agency of North Korea.

The Korea Government Homepage is the official site of
South Korea.