As I have mentioned before since the North Koreans and Iranians have been reportedly sharing missile technology, the fact that the Iranians successfully put their third satellite into orbit last month likely means that the North Koreans should have a very high probability of putting a satellite into orbit as well:
North Korea’s new rocket launch site looks similar to Iran’s cruise and ballistic missile facility, a nongovernmental defense source provider said.
A report issued by the U.S. online defense site GlobalSecurity.org in 2011 said, “The static rocket motor test stand at the Tongchang-dong site is similar to one observed at the Shahid Hemmat facility east of Tehran, Iran. Given North Korean and Iranian collaboration in developing long-range ballistic missiles, the two facilities are probably based on similar design concepts.”
North Korea and Iran have developed bilateral cooperation regarding missile technology. Iran’s intermediate-range ballistic missile Shahab-3 is based on the technology of North Korea’s Rodong-1.
Iran also reportedly sent an observation delegation to the North when the regime conducted its second-round nuclear test after launching the long-range Taepodong-2 missile. [Joong Ang Ilbo]
You can read more at the link about the Sohae Satellite Launching Station which I profiled in this earlier ROK Drop posting. The article points out some other good facts about this new facility such as how it is located closer to the North Korean missile manufacturing facility near Pyongyang which reduces transit times to the launch facility from five days to the east coast launch site to only one day to the new complex. The new facility is also more automated than the prior east coast launch complex and has features such as underground fuel lines for the missile. Why is this significant? Because as the article points out, fuels trucks driving up to the launch pad is a sign of an impending launch for US spy satellites. Now they can fuel the missile without a fuel truck giving away their intentions to launch.
Finally here is a graphic of the expected launch trajectory:
With the trajectory going over China this will complicate any US attempt to intercept the missile with an AEGIS SM-3 interceptor if so attempted, though I doubt the US would do so even if it wasn’t flying over China. Next month should be very interesting to see how this all plays out.