Korea Secret Missile Bases Revealed

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis shakes hands with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo

Today, a new report from a Washington think-tank identified more than a dozen hidden bases in North Korea that could be used to disperse mobile launchers for ballistic missiles in the event of a conflict.

The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) thinktank in Washington however has published satellite photographs of a short-range ballistic missile operating base near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) capable of accommodating medium-range missiles and threatening U.S. forces in the region.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, was canceled last week.

He also pointed out that the North has just declared a halt to its nuclear and missile tests, not the suspension of the operation of those existing facilities and a development program itself.

For the time being, Pyongyang appears to sticking to a self-imposed moratorium on testing in return for a pause in USA military exercises with South Korea which Trump ordered after the Singapore summit.

Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan, reporting from Washington, DC, said USA intelligence "has always been aware North Korea has not dialled back its efforts to expand its nuclear or conventional missile programme".

President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"North Korea's decommissioning of the Sohae satellite launch facility, while gaining much media attention, obscures the military threat to USA forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases", the CSIS report said.

The CSIS report comes after analysts writing for 38 North reported "minor cleanup activity" at North Korea's Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, which was detonated earlier this year before an worldwide press corps.

The Times said the Pentagon had planned to begin deploying a new generation of small, low-priced satellites to track North Korea's mobile missiles, but the program has been held up by bureaucratic and budget disputes.

A Digital Globe satellite image shows what CSIS reports is an undeclared missile operating base at Sakkanmol.

Although not designed as launch sites, the bases could be used to launch short-range as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Cha had been in line for appointment as United States ambassador to South Korea, but was dropped because of disagreement with the Trump administration's approach.

The State Department did not say whether they viewed the base as a violation of any agreements with the United States.

North Korea has said it has closed its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site and the Sohae missile engine test facility.

USA analysts said Monday they have located 13 secret North Korean missile development sites, underscoring the challenge that the Trump administration faces in trying to reach its promised broad arms control agreement with Pyongyang.

"We made more progress in that four or five months (since the summit) than they have made in 70 years", he said, referring to previous U.S. leaders. Now it's North Korea's turn.

Under doveish South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Seoul has pursued a policy of engagement with its isolated, nuclear-armed neighbor, in contrast with the United States which insists pressure should be maintained on Pyongyang until it denuclearizes.

"But I will say this, I will say this very simply - We are in no rush, the sanctions are on", he said.



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