Fears that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un is now preparing for World War 3 were raised this week with the revelation that the secretive country has been apparently building a series of new, covert military bases on apparently man-made islands off the eastern coastline, in the Yellow Sea.
Experts who examined satellite images of the apparently artificial islands say that they cannot yet determine exactly what use Kim intends them for, but a report in the Asia-Pacific news outlet The Diplomat said that at least five locations on the islands have been identified as military bases.
NORTH Korea has been quietly building military facilities that could be used to launch missiles on at least five islands in the Yellow Sea pic.twitter.com/ilEMtsPb0JThe new islands which have materialized largely over the past five years lie off the coast of Sohae, a region in the southeast of North Korea that is home to a satellite launch facility — one that is generally used to test military missiles. On March 6, for example, North Korea test-fired four Scud-ER ballistic missiles.
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Kim himself personally oversaw the Scud launches, according to reports in the North Korea media that were monitored by the West.
"Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA from an observation post, and gave an order to start the drill," North Korean state-run television reported in March.
But the new islands appear to to be more mysterious than Sohae, whose function is well known to Western military and intelligence operations.
"We can't make definitive statements as to what these islands are being used for," said Ryan Barenklau, CEO of the private Washington, D.C, intelligence firm Strategic Sentinel, in a Los Angeles Times report. "And they have observation areas, for someone like Kim Jong Un to observe a missile launch. Every time we see VIP buildings, that tells us there's most likely a military application, because Kim Jong Un likes to view the operations of whatever they're building."
The presence of the observation decks is what leads intelligence analysts to conclude that the purpose of the bases is military.
The North Korean state-run media, however, has mentioned the new islands, reporting that they are part of a "land reclamation project" to create more space for North Korean agricultural usage.
Google Earth images of the mysterious new islands, as assembled by The Diplomat, can be seen in the graphic below.The new, offshore bases on the artificial islands are part of North Korea's war preparations, anticipating an attack from the United States, according to the Diplomat report.
"As Sohae's target value rises, that the North Korean military may be dispersing its assets into nearby facilities. Firing exclusively from Sohae's resident Tongch'ang-ri Launch Facility during wartime would be a dangerously predictable, amateurish mistake," the report said.
But North Korea has previously attempted to spread out its missile-launching capabilities by building bases deep in the country's many mountain ranges — a measure that is considered more effective and cheaper than building brand new islands in the sea. Why North Korea has opted to build the costly island bases remains unclear.
But North Korea is not alone in making preparations for a possible World War 3 conflict with the West. The United States is also preparing for a possible nuclear conflict, testing two nuclear-cable, long-range missiles in the past seven days.
Watch a test of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California, on Wednesday, in the video below.
Minuteman III — the type of missile launched from the California base — is capable of carrying as many as three W78, 350-kiloton thermonuclear warheads, each one with more than 20 times the explosive force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. The Minuteman III has been in service since 1970.
The ICBM launched on Wednesday flew 4,200 miles, coming down in the Kwajalein Atoll, a U.S. missile test range in the Marshall Islands.
[Featured Image by KRT/AP Images]