New satellite images of a key North Korean military shipyard show the ruthless regime has completed work on a new nuclear missile submarine.
The worrying images – obtained by US-based monitoring group 38 North – show ongoing work at the rogue state’s Sinpo South docks and were taken just three weeks ago.
Analysing the photographs, 38 North’s Joseph S Bermudez Jr said a SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA) has moved.
This indicates “whatever work is being done is now completed”.
However the analysis notes the submarine and submersible missile test stand barge have not moved.
However, the website, part of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s Advanced International Studies, stress this doesn’t necessarily mean a missile test is imminent.
“The SINPO-class submarine, submersible test stand barge and nearby test stand, however, appear capable of supporting a test at any time of Pyongyang’s choosing,” 38 North added.
It also suggests the secretive regime is in the middle of a top secret ship building programme.
The analysis reveals further ongoing activity at port and facilities at Nopyong-ni on the west side of the peninsula has undergone modernisation.
“This programme is continuing and progress is observable in the current imagery. Whether this modernisation programme is related to the future development and deployment of a ballistic missile submarine capability is unknown,” Bermudez writes.
Earlier the communist enclave was rocked by a 2.9 magnitude earthquake that struck near Kim Jong-un’s nuclear test site.
It comes after a 6.1-magnitude magnitude quake last month, which Pyongyang claims was the result of hydrogen bomb test.
Yesterday’s quake was recorded 23km north east of Sungjibaegam, which has been used by the secret state to carry out nuclear drills.
A statement on the US Geological Survey website reads: “This event occurred in the area of the previous North Korean Nuclear tests.
“The event has earthquake like characteristics, however, we cannot conclusively confirm at this time the nature (natural or human-made) of the event.”
A 3.4 magnitude quake last month near the same location sparked fears there could have been another nuclear test.
But officials later said it was probably natural or caused by a tunnel collapse.
All of North Korea’s previous six nuclear tests caused earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.3 or above.
Fears are mounting that the country has developed a hydrogen bomb with “great destructive power”.
A top Russian politician even predicted Pyongyang was on the verge of testing a missile capable of reaching the United States mainland.
After visiting the deprived North Korean capital, Anton Morozov said the regime “intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future.”
North Korea’s most recent nuclear detonation last month triggered an artificial earthquake six times larger than in any previous test.
North Korea has already claimed it has developed a sophisticated 120 kiloton hydrogen bomb small enough to be carried on an intercontinental missile.
And a report last week said Kim Jong-un’s growing arsenal has the ability to wreak devastation on neighbours South Korea and Japan as well as sworn enemy the United States.
Four million people could die within minutes of the dictator launching a nuclear strike on Seoul and Tokyo, the shock study by North Korea monitoring group 38 North found.