New research has uncovered at least 13 secret missile operating bases in North Korea, after years of speculation.
New research has uncovered at least 13 secret missile operating bases in North Korea, after years of speculation.

Satellite images of secret N Korea bases show Trump failed

EVIDENCE shows North Korea is advancing its nuclear program, with at least 13 secret missile bases uncovered.

The research from a Washington think tank shows Donald Trump's claims of success in moving the country towards denuclearisation are far from accurate.

The sites, identified using satellite images, can be used to develop weapons ranging from short-range ballistic missiles to intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to the report published by the Beyond Parallel program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday.

Kim Jong-un may have as many as 20 undeclared missile operating bases, the think tank reported, despite promising to dismantle a major launching site and take steps towards denuclearisation.

That dismantling started and then stalled, and the new images show serious subterfuge was underway. North Korea has been continuing to make improvements at other bases to assist launches of conventional and nuclear warheads.

The country has failed to take even the first step towards denuclearisation - providing a list of existing sites.

 

Donald Trump has boasted of great success in diplomatic relations after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Picture: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File
Donald Trump has boasted of great success in diplomatic relations after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Picture: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File

 

The question of how many bases exist in North Korea has been the subject of speculation for decades, but has been carefully concealed through a combination of camouflage, concealment and deception.

While missiles could be launched from the bases in an emergency, they are not intended as launch sites. The Korean People's Army would typically move missile launchers from the bases to special launch sites.

However, it means North Korea is capable of inflicting extraordinary damage, even if the missiles were only armed with conventional rather than nuclear warheads.

The report is a major embarrassment for the President, who has boasted since his summit with Kim in Singapore in June of his immense diplomatic achievement.

In September, South Korean president Moon Jae-in announced that he and Kim had agreed on a process to completely denuclearise the Korean peninsula.

"The North agreed to permanently close the Tongchang-ri missile engine test site and missile launch facility in the presence of experts from relevant nations," Mr Moon told reporters.

The Beyond Parallel report noted that the "decommissioning of the Sohae satellite launch facility, while gaining much media attention, obscures the military threat to US forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases."

Mr Trump said Kim had sent him "beautiful letters" and the pair "fell in love."

Russia and China have both resumed trade with North Korea after noting its improved relationship with the US.

On Wednesday, after his party lost control of the House of Representatives, Mr Trump reiterated: "The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home."

The New York Times said the revelation showed North Korea was guilty of a "great deception".

A State Department spokesman told the newspaper in a statement: "President Trump has made clear that should Chairman Kim follow through on his commitments, including complete denuclearisation and the elimination of ballistic missile programs, a much brighter future lies ahead for North Korea and its people."

Kim has been focused on operational readiness since assuming power in 2011, Beyond Parallel reports. The KPA's Strategic Force - responsible for operating ballistic missiles - is sizeable.

The think tank noted that the vast majority of information available on North Korea's military programs tends to be internally inconsistent, incomplete, confusing, or simply incorrect.

Beyond Parallel carried out extensive research, interviewing North Korean defectors and government and defence officials from around the world.

Missile operating bases are permanent facilities that contain a unit's headquarters, barracks, housing, support, maintenance, and storage facilities.

In North Korea, they are typically rudimentary structures with few large buildings, paved roads or security measures.

The bases tend to be small and are often situated in mountainous regions, scattered through narrow valleys.

They almost always consist of a network of underground facilities to house the unit's transporter-erector-launchers or mobile-erector-launchers, an inventory of missiles and warheads, and other technical or launch support vehicles and equipment.

The base closest to the demilitarized zone and Seoul is called Sakkanmol, which houses a unit equipped with SRBMs but could easily accommodate medium-range ballistic missiles.


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