15 November, 2018
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.
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.
The existence of the bases - which presumably would have to be declared and then dismantled under the USA goal of North Korean "denuclearisation" - suggests that North Korea's previous efforts to dismantle known missile launch sites or nuclear facilities had little impact on its nuclear programme.
Trump has hailed his June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as having opened the way to denuclearization of the divided peninsula, defusing tensions that less than a year ago brought the two countries to the brink of conflict.
North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile programme, according to a new report by a US-based think tank which identified over a dozen small undeclared bases.
Report co-author Joseph Bermudez Jr asserted: "The level of effort that North Korea has invested in building these bases and dispensing them is impressive". "Despite all the summitry, North Korea is just as risky today as it was a year ago".
For the time being, Pyongyang appears to sticking to a self-imposed moratorium on testing in return for a pause in U.S. military exercises with South Korea which Trump ordered after the Singapore summit.
Trump said last Wednesday he hoped to meet again early next year with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un but insisted he was in "no rush" after top-level preparatory talks were abruptly postponed.
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'While missiles could be launched from within them in an emergency, Korean People's Army (KPA) operational procedures call for missile launchers to disperse from the bases to pre-surveyed or semi-prepared launch sites for operations'.
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.
A Digital Globe satellite image shows what CSIS reports is an undeclared missile operating base at Sakkanmol.
North Korea called off a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in NY last week.
Under an agreement made between their generals in late October, North and South Korea agreed to each remove 10 posts and preserve one on either side of the frontier.
U.S. officials have largely opposed these moves to reduce military forces along the tense border, mostly because they are resisting pushes by both Koreas to quickly finalize a peace treaty.
Trump used the agreement to promote himself as a peacemaker ahead of the U.S. mid-term elections earlier this month, pointing to the absence of nuclear and missile testing over the past year.