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North apparently short on supplies

Apr 19,2017
Is North Korea running out of missile launchers?

Local military officials think so, based on a military parade last Saturday in Pyongyang celebrating the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s late founder, Kim Il Sung. As the nation’s current leader, Kim Jong-un, strives to stockpile more ballistic missiles during sanctions from the international society, sources in the South’s Ministry of National Defense said North Korea appears to be suffering a shortage of supplies.

One hint came from the KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which in a previous military parade was rolled out on a 16-wheeled transporter erector launcher (TEL). On Saturday at the Kim Il Sung Square, where the parade was held, the projectile was hoisted on a 12-wheeled TEL, which is usually set aside for an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM).

The 16-wheeled TEL went to a new ICBM that has never been revealed before, according to a local military source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

It is unknown precisely how many 16-wheeled TELs North Korea owns, but the vehicles are said to be rebuilt forestry trucks the country bought from a Chinese logging company in November 2010. The North purchased six wood transport trucks for around 30 million yuan ($4.4 million) total, and rebuilt them into TELs.

During the military parade last weekend, another ICBM was shown on a TEL mounted on a trailer, not a truck. Choi Hyun-ho, operator of Milidom, a website that provides military analysis, said the model was rather outdated, adding that China used it back in the 1990s.

The North’s use of a tracked TEL instead of a wheeled TEL for several newly developed missiles, including the Pukguksong-2 IRBM and extended-range Scud missiles, was also noteworthy, said another local military source.

BY LEE CHUL-JAE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]