The much publicized test fire of North Korea’s strategic submarine underwater ballistic missile said to have been conducted on May 9 has been revealed to be only a part of the country’s elaborate but failed attempt for propaganda. The said test fire was conducted from a submerged barge, eagle-eyed analysts have found.
Further so, the pictures featured in a YouTube video showing Kim Jong Un watching the test fire from afar are all Photoshopped, German aerospace engineers said.
With all these, a U.S. admiral concluded that North Korea is “many years” from developing such missile capability it has been bragging about.
North Korea’s strategic submarine ballistic missile test fire was conducted from a submerged barge
Technical analysis of satellite images conducted by 38 North, a website dedicated to the analysis of North Korea, revealed that the supposed submarine ballistic missile test fire was conducted from a submerged barge at the country’s Sinpo South Naval Shipyard.
“The imagery and information released by KCNA would lead an observer to conclude that this recent test was conducted from the SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine based at the Sinpo South Shipyard. This, however, may be incorrect,” Joseph Bermudez of 38 North wrote.
“To conduct a ballistic missile test (even an ejection test) of a new SLBM system from a new class of experimental ballistic missile submarine that was only launched eight months previously would appear to be at the uppermost limits of North Korean naval and ballistic missile design and development capabilities,” he said.
Contributors for Arms Control Wonk have the same analysis. In an analysis using Google Earth and Internet tools such as Web Plot Digitizer, Dave Schmerler, one the website’s research assistant, was able to geolocate the ship in Sinpo.
Photos were edited by North Korea’s top propagandists
North Korea’s state television featured a YouTube video showing pictures of Kim Jong Un observing the purported test fire. However, German aerospace engineers Markus Schiller and Robert Schmuker were able to spot two photos showing different missiles with different propulsions systems.
The photos were “strongly modified,” Schiller and Schmuker told Reuters. The deadliest giveaway was one photo that has reflection of the missile exhaust flame in the water. The reflection does not line up with the missile itself, the engineers told Reuters.
U.S. Admiral James Winnefeld has spoken in the same tune during a speech given at the Center for strategic and International Studies in Washington on Tuesday. He said that North Korea is “many years” from developing submarine ballistic missiles.
“They have not gotten as far as their clever video editors and spinmeisters would have us believe,” Winnefeld said.
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