North Korea

North Korea's mystery islands: Man-made keys could be new nuclear launch sites

North Korea is at it again. Or rather, it is continuing what it started five years ago.

Artificial islands have been discovered surrounding Sohae Satellite Launching Station, a missile development and testing site roughly 70 miles northwest of Pyongyang. Satellite images suggest the islands are home to military installations and have been under development for at least five years.

While their purpose is unknown, suspicions are high that the islands could be used to launch missiles. Those speculations are not far off the mark, according to Gordon Chang, author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.”

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“North Korea is never up to any good,” Chang said in an emailed statement to Fox News. “The new facilities, whatever their purpose, will be used for evil deeds, mischief, or troublemaking of some sort.”

“My sense is that the facilities on the new islands will be used for missile launches of some kind, especially because they are near Sohae.”

North Korea could just be following in its neighbor China’s footsteps. In recent years, China has reportedly been stocking its disputed man-made islands with missiles.

The missile theory is being rebuffed by some. North Korea expert and political science professor Dr. Bruce Bechtol does not think the islands deserve so much focus.

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“As far as the islands being something that could present a real imminent threat to the U.S. or South Korea,” he said, “I’m just not seeing it.”

According to Bechtol, North Korea has far stealthier stockpiles than what could be placed on islands easily monitored via satellite.

“The land mass of those islands is too small to move around missiles,” he said. “It’s interesting that they’re developing these islands, but they’re probably mostly for civilian use.”

The islands could very well be used agriculturally, which could benefit North Korea since the country has struggled to feed its citizens.

“They [North Korea] ruined a lot of their soil in the 80s and 90s. These islands have the potential to really help them out through possible fish farms or oyster farms,” Bechtol stated.

Or, maybe the country has two goals in mind.

“The North Koreans build just about everything for dual purpose,” Steve Sin, a researcher on unconventional weapons and technology at the University of Maryland, told the Los Angeles Times. “So, building something that is of military use on an agricultural project is certainly within its usual pattern.”