Published: Tue, November 13, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

North Korea hiding missile bases, USA researchers say

North Korea hiding missile bases, USA researchers say

The Beyond Parallel program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies identified the bases in a Monday report, signaling that Pyongyang has been misleading the West about its intentions to dismantle its missile program, according to The New York Times.

"The dispersed nature, small size of operating bases, and tactics and doctrine employed by ballistic missile units provide the best chances for their survival given the KPA's technology and capabilities", according to the report, using an acronym to refer to the Korean People's Army.

A US think tank said on Monday it had identified at least 13 of an estimated 20 undeclared missile bases inside North Korea, underscoring the challenge for American negotiators hoping to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. A meeting scheduled for last week between Pompeo and Pyongyang's nuclear negotiator, Kim Yong Chol, was postponed unexpectedly, only days after North Korean state media released a commentary that suggested missile testing could resume if progress was not made on talks.

"The fact that North Korea has continued to build nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in the midst of high-level diplomacy with China, South Korea, and the United States should not come as a surprise", said Abraham Denmark, the Asia program director at The Wilson Centre.

"Interesting but unsurprising report", said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association.

Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed on a broad plan to ease tensions along the border during their third summit in Pyongyang in September.

The State Department responded to the study with a statement that failed to directly address the secret bases, saying "President Trump has made clear that should Chairman Kim follow through on his commitments, including complete denuclearization and the elimination of ballistic missile programs, a much brighter future lies ahead for North Korea and its people".

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Trump on September 19, 2018 said USA relations with North Korea are making "tremendous progress" from the days before his presidency when the two countries appeared close to "going to war". The country has not conducted a missile flight test for almost a year, which came as a relief for Japan.

However the gesture has been met with mixed responses after a leading U.S. defence think tank said it has identified increased activity at 13 North Korean missile bases despite negotiators hoping Pyongyang would give up its nuclear and long-range missile arsenal. This particular facility likely houses shorter-range North Korean missiles that could be used to strike South Korea in the event of war. It also raised the possibility of shutting more sites and allowing worldwide inspections if Washington took "corresponding measures", of which there has so far been no sign.

Last week, North Korea called off a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in NY, and state media said on Monday the resumption of some small-scale military drills by South Korea and the United States violated a recent agreement aimed at lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Satellite images of a possible base in Sakkanmol, about 50 miles from the Demilitarized Zone, allegedly show headquarter buildings, barracks, maintenance depots and entrances to alleged underground tunnels that would hide missiles and transport trucks.

"Missile operating bases are not launch facilities".

CSIS said that while these were operating bases and not launch sites, they could be used as launch sites if necessary.

"Any missile at these bases can take a nuclear warhead", the report's co-author, Joseph Bermudez, an authority on North Korea, told the Times.

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