North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has apparently visited factories that are linked to missile launches. The factories may not have dangerous names by analysts say that the ostensibly civilian facilities are also used to build ballistic missile launchers and other weapons as well. The North Korea state news agency KCNA on Saturday released reports of Kim providing ‘field guidance’ at a number of factories and cities.
The news agency didn’t tell when the visits had taken place. The reports only mentioned economic elements but according to analysts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) in California says that the sites help form the core of North Korea’s arms industry, and have played a major role in developing its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology.
CNS researcher Jeffrey Lewis told that that site is the heart of North Korea’s defense industry. He told that, “These are the kind of visits we saw in 2016 and 2017 as North Korea moved toward ICBM testing.” One of the sites that Kim visited was the February 8 General Machine Factory. That site has been used to construct ballistic missile launchers.
The machine factory was the site of the July 28, 2017, launch of a Hwasong-14 ICBM. Kim had personally observed that launch test. Lewis told Reuters that the facility is not named by North Korea to hide it. They usually give the name of the plant manager but not the name of the facility.
Lewis had authored a report in January in which he listed February 8 plant as one of the various sites that were visited by the North Korean leader. North Korea had not fully disclosed the location or full purpose. It is reported that these recent tests and visits are part of Kim’s higher modernization plan.