US analysts locate secret North Korean missile sites
15 November, 2018, 10:57 | Author: Essie Rivera
In reports released by the Washington, D.C. -based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), researchers said maintenance and minor infrastructure improvements had been observed at some of the sites despite the negotiations. It is unclear whether the missiles at Sakkanmol would be armed with nuclear or conventional warheads, but at least some of the bases would be nuclear capable, says Joseph Bermudez, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and an author of the new report.
The Centre for Strategic and International Strategic Studies (CSIS) report released on Monday argues that, despite talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Pyongyang is reinforcing thirteen secret facilities that serve primarily to store nuclear weapons, reports Efe news.
Although the sites are not launch facilities, the authors say they must be declared by North Korea and inspected in any credible, verifiable deal.
US analysts say they have located more than half of an estimated 20 secret North Korean missile development sites.
The report was released less than a week after North Korea abruptly called off a new round of negotiations with Mr Pompeo that had been set for Thursday in NY.
"Work is continuing. What everybody is anxious about is that Trump is going to accept a bad deal - they give us a single test site and dismantle a few other things, and in return they get a peace agreement".
The United States has told Japan it may resume large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea as early as next spring, if there continues to be no tangible progress on the denuclearization of North Korea, Japanese government sources said Monday.
While US sanctions on North Korea remain in place, enforcement by traditional trading partners China and Russian Federation has relaxed since the summit, US officials have acknowledged. "While missiles could be launched from within them in an emergency, Korean People's Army operational procedures call for missile launchers to disperse from the bases to pre-surveyed or semi-prepared launch sites for operations".
Sakkanmol and other similar bases represent the backbone of North Korea's nuclear defense.
About 500 United States and South Korean marines began military drills last week that were among joint exercises indefinitely suspended in June as Seoul and Washington focused on engaging with North Korea.
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The researchers' findings were based on satellite imagery, defector interviews and interviews with intelligence and government officials.
The report included a detailed profile of one such tactical missile operating base, illustrated with commercial satellite imagery, just 84 miles northwest of Seoul.
The Sakkanmol base is about 80 km from the demilitarized zone, and from there the North launched two Scud or Rodong missiles in March 2016, three in July, and three in September into the East Sea.
The size of the entrances, as well as the volume of soil removed, indicates the base could house a brigade-size missile unit with up to 18 mobile launchers, the report said.
Barracks, administration facilities, support buildings and greenhouses for food are visible further down the valley.
It came amid lingering doubts about whether the North will submit a full list of its nuclear and missile programs and engage in serious denuclearization talks in spite of Trump's all optimistic statements, including the talk of his good relationship with Kim.
Trump has said he hopes to meet again soon with Kim, but there are signs of growing friction in the negotiations with North Korean officials, which appear to have stalled.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's planned meeting with his North Korean counterpart in NY on Thursday was postponed at the last minute.
The United States and North Korea are still divided on ways to advance the denuclearization process.
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