What is happening in North Korea and what Kim Jong Un is planning remain difficult to predict. Since most of the time satellite images are considered the only source of information, recent imagery of the country's shipyard shows activity, indicating preparations for a test of a medium-range submarine-launched ballistic missile.

As per a U.S. think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the satellite images, which are published on its website of North Korea's Sinpo shipyard, have shown many vessels within a secure boat basin and of them some resembled vessels that were previously used to pull a submersible test stand barge out into sea.

The CSIS said that the activity was "suggestive, but not conclusive, of preparations for an upcoming test of a Pukguksong-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile from the submersible test stand barge."

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un KCNA/Reuters

North Korea Plan

In October 2019, North Korea said that it had successfully test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) -- Pukguksong-3 -- from the sea as part of its efforts to contain external threats and boost self-defense.

Kim Jong Un had suspended long-range missile program and nuclear tests in 2017 when U.S. President Donald Trump tried to negotiate with North Korea to give up its nuclear arsenal. As Trump is currently running for his second term at the White House, a North Korean missile test before the November election would highlight the lack of progress on this front.

At a news briefing on Friday, September 4, Trump not only hailed his relationship with the North Korean leader but also said that when he was elected in 2016, people thought that he would be at war with North Korea. But it did not happen as expected, as "we've gotten along with them. We didn't get to war," he stressed.

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File photo of Trump shaking hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Reuters

In Twitter, Vipin Narang, a non-proliferation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), wrote, "North Korea already tested a PKS-3 SLBM last October. And it didn't cross Trump's redline then and is unlikely to this time. Trump won't care."

However, South Korea earlier said that the missile, Pukguksong-3, which was tested in 2019, flew 280 miles and reached an altitude of 565 miles. The neighboring nation also noted that the missile would have had a range of about 800 miles on a standard trajectory.