How does North Korea pinpoint targets? With these outdated Google maps, photo suggests

Photo released by North Korean news agency KCNA
Photo released by North Korean news agency KCNA KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to be relying on out-of-date Google Earth images to pinpoint the country’s military targets as the rogue nation continues developing its nuclear program, according to The Independent.

Propaganda photos released by the regime feature the leader analyzing an outdated map that appears to be a 2011 Google Earth image of Anderson Air Base in Guam.

“They have nothing of their own,” said Nick Hansen, of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, confirming that the images appear to be from Google Earth. “They’ve launched satellites, but they tumbled immediately so they never got anything from them. They don’t work.”

That means that when the regime wants to locate targets with any precision, it can’t rely on its own technology. Instead, it has to find mapping information that’s publicly available already.

“Where would you get it cheaply, for nothing?” Hansen asked. “Google Earth.”

North Korea has been pushing further and further with its nuclear program in recent weeks, launching another missile test over Japan on Friday. The missile went about 2,300 miles and reached a maximum height of 500 miles, Japanese and South Korean officials said, according to the Pacific Daily News.

“North Korea's firing of yet another ballistic missile is a clear violation of (UN Security Council) resolutions and a very serious and grave challenge to international peace and security,” the South Korean government said, according to CNN.

It was the second missile launch over Japan in a month.

Earlier in the week, on Monday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed the toughest sanctions its ever imposed on the country, according to the Independent.

But a lack of technology is still a stumbling block for North Korea’s program, as it has been for years.

When North Korea tried to launch a satellite into orbit in 2012, the country ended up acknowledging the fact that its rocket launch failed mere moments after liftoff, according to The New York Times. The country also admitted that the satellite the rocket had been carrying “failed to enter its preset orbit.”

The 2012 failure was the first time the country ever fessed up to a failed long-range missile or satellite launch, the Times reports.