North Korea missile images raise questions about authenticity

North Korea released images of its most recent weapons test on Sunday and Monday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
North Korea released images of its most recent weapons test on Sunday and Monday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

March 31 (UPI) -- The possibility North Korea may have doctored the images released this week showing a test of "super-large multiple rocket launchers" cannot be ruled out, according to a German analyst.

Markus Schiller, an expert on North Korean missiles based in Germany, said the image of the weapon North Korea tested over the weekend looked manipulated, Voice of America's Korean service reported.


The North Korean images published in Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun show launchers with a diameter bigger than the launching tubes.

Other details, including the dust that appears to have been stirred up during launch, and the lighting around the back of the missile as the projectile lights up in flames, do not seem natural, according to the analyst.

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff on Monday raised the possibility the North Korean image may have been manipulated, according to South Korean news service Financial News.

Seoul said images of the rocket launchers published on Monday are similar to the launchers North Korea deployed in August 2019. North Korea's photos of the weapon appeared to have been blurred at the time, according to the report.


North Korea's images have come under scrutiny in recent years.

In 2017, after North Korea flight-tested the Hwasong-15, experts said the released images may have been fake. The direction of the launch and the stars in the images did not align, said Marco Langbroek, a space expert who monitors North Korea, according to CNN at the time.

"You should see constellations that are opposites in the sky. That is not the case," he had said.

North Korea's test of weapons comes at a time when the regime is taking measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Pyongyang has said there are zero cases of COVID-19 in the country.

If the epidemic grows in the country and politicians are to be held accountable, Choe Ryong Hae, president of the Presidium of North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly, could take the blame in place of the ruling Kim family, South Korea's National Assembly Research Service said Tuesday, according to Yonhap.

Kim Jong Un's decision to promote his sister Kim Yo Jong was also a move to weaken Choe's position, according to the South Korean research.


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