North Korea is undertaking many strategic activities. Analysts and security officials of the current government say they are watching for signs that North Korea may use an upcoming holiday to reveal new weapons or test-fire a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) after a flurry of suspicious activity was discovered at its key base. Formations of troops have been seen rehearsing for what is supposed to be a major military parade on Oct. 10, the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. Some witnesses say North Korea may showcase its largest missiles for the first time since 2018.
Imagery analysts and security officials caution that so far there is no convincing proof of an imminent launch. But after several typhoons strapped North Korea in early September, satellite photos have shown a flurry of activity at the Sinpo South Shipyard, including in a secure basin where a barge used in previous underwater missile launches is docked. “We’re monitoring developments, as there is a possibility that a submarine-launched ballistic missile test will be conducted there using ejection equipment shortly after the repair is done,” Won In-choul, the nominee for chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told leading media houses this week.
Other South Korean officials have articulated more cautious notes, including incoming South Korean defense minister Gen. Suh Wook, who spoke on Monday that he considered an SLBM test unlikely because there is too little time to prepare ahead of the anniversary. On Thursday, Daily NK, a Seoul-based website that reports on North Korea, cited a single unnamed source near the shipyard as saying the site “is bustling with activity to prepare for the ballistic missile launch,” with officials and researchers arriving since late August.