12 January 2000 Yonhap [Seoul]

Commercial Satellite Photos of DPRK Missile Base Viewed

New York, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- How to analyze a satellite snapshot of a north korean missile base is a hot issue among experts here.

According to The New York Times tuesday, experts disagree over whether the first detailed photo images of a secret North Korean missile base taken by a spy satellite of private Space Imaging Inc. and released last week presents a threat to the United States.

The private Federation of American Scientists (FAS) insisted the rural site featured in the photo lacks basic facilities in order to qualify as a missile base such as rail links, paved roads, fuel tanks and staff housing needed to support one.

FAS director John Pike said, "it's the mouse that roared." The institute said the base is "barely worthy of note, consisting of the most minimal imaginable infrastructure."

But other experts said the base, from which a missile was test-fired over Japan in august 1998, is a potentially deadly example of how little infrastructure is needed for a nation to have missiles that could threaten the United States.

Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy, criticized the FAS as "naive," saying that a further evaluation could reveal the base's true threat.