North Korea has built five separate islands in the Yellow Sea, all of which contain secret military facilities that are capable of discreetly launching nuclear missiles.
The islands surround the city of Sohae, which is known to house the main missile development and testing site in North Korea around 200 kilometres north-west of Pyongyang.
Strategic Sentinel’s lead research associate Damen Cook told Express UK that some of the new islands are natural – while others are artificial.
In Google Earth images from 2012, the majority of the islands appear to be no more than just patches of sand and rock, and what used to be deserted wasteland has been transformed into strategic outposts for the military facilities.
Named the “Sohae Islands”, Cook stated that the North Koreans might be using the islands as alternative launchpads, as global intelligence agencies continue to find out more about the main facility in Sohae.
Mr Cook said there is not yet enough reliable information to determine exactly what the new islands are for, but they most likely will be used in a military capacity.
“The city is rising in strategic importance as North Korea focuses more and more of its efforts on mastering Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) technology. In fact, if North Korea follows through on its recent pseudo-threat to test a new missile every week, all eyes will be turning to Sohae very soon,” Cook told The Diplomat last week.
Missile launch stations in North Korea are usually located in the mountains – which makes the positioning of these islands in the sea rather unusual. Although, the new locations could be appropriate for anti-aircraft or anti-ship area denial weapons.
It is also possible that the facilities are for oil exploration, considering that the Yellow Sea supposedly contains a high amount of oil.
Given the state’s reputation for secrecy, the real purpose of these islands could remain a mystery for some time. They could even potentially be a decoy from Kim Jong Un’s real plans.