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Analysis of the New North Korean Missile Launch Complex



Nick Hansen,

Date and Time

February 10, 2009 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Reuben W. Hills Conf RoomEncina Hall 616 Serra St., 2nd floor Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305

FSI Contact

Justin C. Liszanckie

In 2006, public reports began to circulate that North Korea was constructing a large new rocket testing and launching center in a rural North-western coastal valley. A Jane's article by Bermudez nicknamed the complex Pongdong-ni and reported on some of the individual facilities. Coming in the aftermath of the 2006 Taepo-dong II launch failure from the existing Musadun-ri launch center on North Korea's East coast, there has been world-wide  speculation and ‘expert' analysis, much of it based on Google Earth images which have not been updated since 2003 (Musadun-ri) and 2006 (Pongdong-ni).  A recent government report that a rocket engine test occured during the summer of 2008 ratcheted up the media rhetoric: meanwhile little has been admitted by North Korea. In our presentation, we will examine the growth of the DPRK's rocket programs using commercial tools and satellite visible and multispectral data previously available only the government intelligence and military analysts.  In our presentation:

  1. We will assess and compare the capabilities and completion schedules of Pongdong- ni and  Musadun-ri,
  2. Present important new policy issues that are presented by these major facility investments,
  3. Show examples of how Open Source Technical Intelligence can provide an improved public understanding of foreign WMD activities independently of government and partisan policy centers.  
  4. Comment on last weeks Iranian satellite launch using North Korean developed rockets. 

Lew Franklin is a long-time CISAC Affiliate, joining CISAC in 1992 as a Visiting Scholar after retiring as a TRW vice president, and previously vice president and co-founder of ESL, a defense intelligence company.  Upon retirement he was awarded the CIA's Gold Medal for career-long contributions to foreign weapons assessment and national technical means capabilities.  At CISAC his work focused on technical intelligence related problems, including wmd proliferation, export controls, defense conversion, and especially conversion of retired ICBMs for low-cost space launches.  In 1993, he headed the launch campaign that mated the Stanford Quakesat satellite onto a retired Russian SS-19 Rokot launcher for a successful launch to orbit.  His current research into Open Source Technical Intelligence is in support of the upcoming visit to North Korea led by Lewis and Hecker.

Nick Hansen graduated with a BA in Geography from Syracuse University in 1964.  His career in national intelligence spans 43 years first as an Army imagery analyst, and then in industry with GTE-EDL, ESL/TRW, Tera Research as a cofounder Vice Pres. and then again at ESL (now TRW/Northrop-Grumman) as a Director. Currently he is in an SES position at the Navy's NIOC-Suitland, MD, as an image technology expert associated with Pennsylvania State University.  He has been twice nominated for the NRO's Pioneer award for innovative imagery uses and techniques development and is an expert in foreign weapons systems and test ranges. Currently Nick is supporting John Lewis' North Korea project.