United States analysts locate secret North Korean missile sites

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System, South Korean President Moon Jae-in left and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose after signing documents in Pyongyang North Korea Wednesday Sept. 19 2018.(Korea Broadcasting

In response to the CSIS report, a State Department spokesperson told ABC News, "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".

The report singled out a base known as Sakkanmol, about 80 kilometers north of the demilitarised zone and one of the closest to South Korea.

Sakkanmol, which CSIS says is now "active and being reasonably well-maintained by North Korean standards", houses short-range ballistic missiles typically capable of traveling over 500 miles.

"These missile operating bases, which can be used for all classes of ballistic missile - from short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) up to and including intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) - would presumably have to be subject to declaration, verification, and dismantlement in any final and fully verifiable denuclearisation deal".

Trump, in a free-wheeling news conference after midterm elections, said he was willing eventually to ease the pressure on North Korea.

If stalled nuclear talks with Washington ever get back on track, helping Kim solve his country's chronic energy deficit could be one of the biggest carrots President Trump has to offer. "The fact that they have been maintained and improved, however, does not mean North Korea is cheating or deceiving the United States - Kim said he would mass produce ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads in his New Year's Day speech this year, and that is exactly what he is doing", said Vipin Narang, an expert on the North Korean nuclear programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Just a year ago, he was threatening "fire and fury" against North Korea.

They are created to enable mobile missile launchers to quickly exit the underground facilities and move to previously prepared launch sites.

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

In this undated image distributed on Sunday, September 3, 2017, by the North Korean government, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to work toward denuclearization at their landmark June summit in Singapore, but the agreement was short on specifics and negotiations have made little headway. The country has not conducted a missile flight test for almost a year, which came as a relief for Japan.

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

It also raised the possibility of shuttering more sites and allowing global inspections if Washington took "corresponding measures".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been scheduled to meet Kim's right-hand man, Kim Yong Chol, in NY last week to discuss denuclearization efforts and prepare for a possible second summit, according to the State Department.

The bases, which are located in "mountainous terrain, often spread out within narrow dead-end valleys", they write, could be used to deploy mobile missile launchers, which would be extremely hard for other nations to track and stop before the missiles could be fired.

The revelations, like earlier reports on the continuation of North Korea's weapons programs, highlight the challenges of securing the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.



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