North Korea says, "Yeah? Well fuck you."

Satellite imagery from March 29 shows the beginning of North Korean preparations at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station (more commonly known as Tongchang-dong Space Launch Center) for its planned April rocket launch. Work to prepare the launch pad for stacking the Unha-3 satellite launch vehicle (SLV) appears to be underway. The mobile launch pad is seen sitting on tracks next to the gantry tower. All the work platforms have been folded back and the crane on top is at a 45 degree angle relative to the pad, indicating that equipment is being loaded onto the gantry. At the base of the gantry there are numerous small objects on the pad and several people. There is also a plate under the mobile launch stand to cover the entrance into the flame trench that is still in place and will be removed prior to launch. A crew appears to be cutting brush away from the concrete in the brown dirt area that extends from in front of the pad up the right side. This activity has been ongoing since March 20 when previous imagery was available. The North Koreans may be concerned that a fire after the launch could spread to propellant storage buildings.

image
38 North analysts have marked the various activities that can be seen to prepare the launch pad. Image © 2012 DigitalGlobe, Inc.

At the two largest propellant storage buildings to the right of the launch pad, containing large tanks to supply the Unha-3's first stage, trucks can be seen delivering fuel and oxidizer to small tanks. At the fuel storage building (largest building on right), nine tanks are lined up against the building and a truck carrying a tank can be seen in the middle of the road. At the oxidizer building (second largest structure), six tanks are visible and a vehicle is parked in front of them. The two smaller propellant buildings further down the road are intended to store a different fuel and oxidizer for the Unha-3's second and third stages. No activity appears to be taking place at these buildings as of March 29.

Launch pad preparation seems to be progressing on schedule with fuel and oxidizer being delivered to the storage buildings for the Unha-3's first stage. The next step will be the movement of the first stage to the pad-probably on March 30 or 31-followed by the second stage a day or two later. The third stage and payload will follow probably by April 2 or 3. Several other major events will take place after the Unha-3 is completely assembled. Unless some major setback occurs, the North Koreans will be able to launch during the declared launch window starting April 12, 2012. (See the accompanying 38 North article by Nick Hansen on a timeline for the upcoming launch).

So Escapist, basically the question I'm asking is;

What do?

How does glorious America and the totally competent UN respond to a direct slap in the face?
Is China still ready to co-ordinate with Obama?
Is South Korea shitting themselves despite the "it's all cool" vibe they've got going?

EDIT: Source that I forgot to add.

Main
http://38north.org/

depends on obama and how he feels about this. im sure bush would of just destroyed the place but obama is not bush so this will be interesting to see how things turn out.

Any action against them should be UN sanctioned. This means that China is the major stepping stone. If NK makes a move that causes China to denounce their support then it will probably be something large enough to trigger war.

I think it is stupid to jeopardize relations with China though over what is a relatively small incident. It is not like are targeting anything in particular, if they are just testing and staying far enough away from nuclear then it is not worth what will be lost.

SK should have a major say in any proposals as well, they are the ones that, however weak an actual NK armed forces are, that are in the firing line.

Pad wash down? Looks more like shoddy North Korean engineering. I hope this fails, if that rocket is made as well as the launch area it's gonna blow up before it reaches 1,000 feet.

Launching satellites? Explain something to me because I genuinely don't know, is space exploration and commercial satellites etc considered to be a different region from military grade cruise missiles when it comes to North Korea or do western leaders pretty much say "Rocketry. No." when it comes to these kinds of things?

This. This is why DARPA needs to work faster on those Rods from God. If we had those, we could just pull a Joker on that place and poof! It's gone!

I Wonder if they intend to take down the US Flag on the Moon...
/Food for Thought.

MoNKeyYy:
Launching satellites? Explain something to me because I genuinely don't know, is space exploration and commercial satellites etc considered to be a different region from military grade cruise missiles when it comes to North Korea or do western leaders pretty much say "Rocketry. No." when it comes to these kinds of things?

I think the latter or they don't acknowledge this to be a civilian programme without inspectors being allowed to verify that, which is reasonable given the North Korean track record.

I'm not surprised that the Koreans deny this though, the leadership's only claim to power is to show that they're being independent from the foreign devils, same as North Vietnam. If they back down they will be humiliated and open to coup or popular uprising and that is a far less enviable prospect to them than the loss of foreign aid.

I question the interpretation of those low-res satelite images. What they call the gantry tower is under a strange diagonal angle compared to the launch site while those ussually move back in a straight line, I can see only one truck, but it's too small to be a fuel truck (notice the actual truck in the site cleanup on the left being much bigger and it's storage tank being visible).

The 'oxidizer tanks' are unrecognizable, it could be anything. On top of that, it's illogical to store such a fire hazard above ground in the open air.

Who analysed those images and what's their expertise? And why use low-res civilian images when better is readily available?

MoNKeyYy:
Launching satellites? Explain something to me because I genuinely don't know, is space exploration and commercial satellites etc considered to be a different region from military grade cruise missiles when it comes to North Korea or do western leaders pretty much say "Rocketry. No." when it comes to these kinds of things?

The problem is, if you can strap a satelite to it, you can also strap a nuke to it, or several. So in the hands of North Korea, it's feared that they're developing rockets that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons over larger distances.

Blablahb:
I question the interpretation of those low-res satelite images. What they call the gantry tower is under a strange diagonal angle compared to the launch site while those ussually move back in a straight line, I can see only one truck, but it's too small to be a fuel truck (notice the actual truck in the site cleanup on the left being much bigger and it's storage tank being visible).

The 'oxidizer tanks' are unrecognizable, it could be anything. On top of that, it's illogical to store such a fire hazard above ground in the open air.

Who analysed those images and what's their expertise? And why use low-res civilian images when better is readily available?

Not a fucking clue man. Sorry.

PrinceOfShapeir:
This. This is why DARPA needs to work faster on those Rods from God. If we had those, we could just pull a Joker on that place and poof! It's gone!

Er, the US has had the capability to do that for decades.

It might not have the capability to persuade North Korea not to retaliate if attacked.

EDIT: Er, the capability to do that using other means, I meant. You don't need orbital bombardment to do it.

I am of the opinion that North Korea flips a coin each day and behaves one way if its heads and another way if its tails.

And no, nobody is going to attack North Korea over this, it just seems stupid that North Korea would turn around and do this after Nuclear talks were just starting to show progress.

That looks more like that crap Air Port runway in Area 51 than some high tech laugh system.

I'm sure they'll be under heavy surveillance from all sides waiting to see if anything that resembles a Warhead makes it's way onto the platform.

Other than that, let them launch as many Satellites as they want.

thaluikhain:

PrinceOfShapeir:
This. This is why DARPA needs to work faster on those Rods from God. If we had those, we could just pull a Joker on that place and poof! It's gone!

Er, the US has had the capability to do that for decades.

It might not have the capability to persuade North Korea not to retaliate if attacked.

EDIT: Er, the capability to do that using other means, I meant. You don't need orbital bombardment to do it.

Yeah, but Rods from God are pretty much undetectable. It's not like a missile launch where everybody goes 'UNITED STAAAAAATES!' they're just like "WHO? WHAT? EVERYTHING EXPLODED!" Anyway, I'm terrified of North Korean response. What are they going to do, throw starving children at the front lines?

Honestly, can't we just let 'em have some critrockets too by now? While most who do have them are part of the club, it's not like they're not already in less than reassuring hands.

Exactly what and how much are we prepared to do to take their newest toy away from them?

Blablahb:
I question the interpretation of those low-res satelite images. What they call the gantry tower is under a strange diagonal angle compared to the launch site while those ussually move back in a straight line, I can see only one truck, but it's too small to be a fuel truck (notice the actual truck in the site cleanup on the left being much bigger and it's storage tank being visible).

The 'oxidizer tanks' are unrecognizable, it could be anything. On top of that, it's illogical to store such a fire hazard above ground in the open air.

Who analysed those images and what's their expertise? And why use low-res civilian images when better is readily available?

The capabilities of US surveillance satellites are often kept secret. I cannot vouch for the... accuracy of this particular image and analysis for obvious reasons, but it is entirely possible and plausible that the analysis was done with much better imagery, with the current photo switched in for public distribution in order to satisfy the paranoia of certain officials.

Muspelheim:
Honestly, can't we just let 'em have some critrockets too by now? While most who do have them are part of the club, it's not like they're not already in less than reassuring hands.

Exactly what and how much are we prepared to do to take their newest toy away from them?

There's an old saying, three men can keep an important secret, if two are dead.

As morbid as it is, the sentiment is not only quite realistic, but it applies to dangerous items just as easily. The more nations that have nuclear weapons, even if they are all as trustworthy as possible in terms of not using those weapons, the more likely it will become that someone who fully intends to use the weapons will steal them.

Even incredibly dangerous nations can be held in check by the threat of retaliation. No one wants to wake up to a scorched wasteland of a planet, even if they "won" the war. Smaller independent groups however, don't have to worry about that aspect. They can easily nuke heavily populated cities and get away scotch free, simply because we have no target to retaliate against.

Also, while having nukes in the hands of the Russians for example isn't particularly reassuring, they are relatively predictable, and therefore counterable. The Koreans with nukes quite frankly scare the shit out of me, its a lot like having people I care for stuck in a room with a chimpanzee who is playing with a loaded pistol.

Zekksta:
How does glorious America and the totally competent UN respond to a direct slap in the face?

Why should America or the UN respond to any "slap in the face"?

Either North Korea's actions have repercussions or not. Those repercussions should be the result of DPRK honoring its agreements or not. Whether or not it has made the US or the UN look bad is irrelevant. To be concerned with how the DPRK has made the US or the UN look is to openly admit that the US/UN position is so precarious that a pissant upstart country begging for food and throwing a tantrum to get attention can threaten it.

In other words, the world should have the cajones to respond to North Korea because of what North Korea does. Not because we are insecure about how North Korea's actions make us look. A powerful nation does not need to worry if a lesser nation strives to slap them in the face.

keiskay:
depends on obama and how he feels about this. im sure bush would of just destroyed the place but obama is not bush so this will be interesting to see how things turn out.

The last thing Bush would have done to NK is attack it, as they have no oil. As seen with Iran, it'd be in poor taste to invade a country merely because you don't like them or what they're doing.

MoNKeyYy:
Launching satellites? Explain something to me because I genuinely don't know, is space exploration and commercial satellites etc considered to be a different region from military grade cruise missiles when it comes to North Korea or do western leaders pretty much say "Rocketry. No." when it comes to these kinds of things?

North Korea is regarded by the UN as a potentially hostile nation, IE one where there is a lot of negative sentiment towards other countries and might initiate war. So, there are 2 reasons this sort of thing could be concerning:

1.) They could be developing long range nuclear missile technology (ICBM) which uses very similar technology to normal rockets.

2.) They could be launching spy satellites.

North Koreas entire history is can be surmised as dick moves to every person on the planet.

For example:

Food donations to the nation are "stolen from US bases."

They built the frame for the largest hotel in the world, and then pretended it didn't exist.

A couple of Korea women who went to China had to get abortions when they came back for the "purity of the race."

They never mention the role the Chinese played during the Korean War.

A tunnel that the South Koreans found heading under the demilitarized zone was called a coal mine and then painted it black.

One day a year, South Korean tourists are allowed to meet with their captured family members.

The list goes on.

Blablahb:
I question the interpretation of those low-res satelite images. What they call the gantry tower is under a strange diagonal angle compared to the launch site while those ussually move back in a straight line, I can see only one truck, but it's too small to be a fuel truck (notice the actual truck in the site cleanup on the left being much bigger and it's storage tank being visible).

The 'oxidizer tanks' are unrecognizable, it could be anything. On top of that, it's illogical to store such a fire hazard above ground in the open air.

Who analysed those images and what's their expertise? And why use low-res civilian images when better is readily available?

MoNKeyYy:
Launching satellites? Explain something to me because I genuinely don't know, is space exploration and commercial satellites etc considered to be a different region from military grade cruise missiles when it comes to North Korea or do western leaders pretty much say "Rocketry. No." when it comes to these kinds of things?

The problem is, if you can strap a satelite to it, you can also strap a nuke to it, or several. So in the hands of North Korea, it's feared that they're developing rockets that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons over larger distances.

In terms of the gantry, I don't think it's at an angle, it's just that the satellite taking the picture isn't directly above the site so it looks slanted.
The rest of what you point out is weird though, and you're right, they must have higher resolution images. I guess they just aren't for the public domain.
And yeah, once something is in space it's pretty difficult to intercept, so people are getting the jitters about North Korea gaining that ability.

 

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