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U.S. analysts locate secret NKorean missile sites

U.S. analysts locate secret NKorean missile sites

President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that, following his summer summit with North Korean Kim Jong Un, the Asian country's nuclear problem is "largely stopped".

"We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new - and nothing happening out of the normal", Trump wrote in a post on Twitter, referring to a report on Monday in the New York Times. "I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!"

The researchers' findings were based on satellite imagery, defector interviews and interviews with intelligence and government officials.

The CSIS report said that the short-range ballistic missile base is one of the 20 undeclared missile bases in North Korea.

Imagery of the Sakkanmol missile base "continues to show minor infrastructure changes to the base that are consistent with what is often seen at remote [Korean People's Army] bases of all types", the report said.

A widely covered news story about North Korea's alleged ongoing development of ballistic missile sites misconstrued the findings of the report it was based on, according to a leading monitor.

But on Tuesday, Seoul reacted with something of a shrug to news that more than a dozen of North Korea's hidden missile sites had been identified by USA researchers using satellite images.

Yet a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman responded to the report about the secret missile sites by saying it contains "nothing new" and that the North never promised to destroy any missile sites other than Tongchang-ri.

The size of the entrances, as well as the volume of soil removed, indicates the base could house a brigade-size missile unit with up to 18 mobile launchers, the report said.

Experts said the undeclared sites had always been known to USA intelligence agencies but had never been publicly acknowledged by Mr Trump who asserted North Korea was "no longer a nuclear threat" following the June summit. It said that the sites suggest a "great deception" by the North.

Since the summit, North Korea has not carried out any nuclear or missile tests and has dismantled a missile test site. Although the sites are not launch facilities and in some cases are rudimentary, the authors of the report say they are hidden and illustrate the scope of the North's weapons program and the country's determination to hide its military might.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to meet with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the North Korean Central Committee, in New York City last week.

"In the 2018 New Year address, Kim Jong Un called for shifting to full-scale production and deployment of nuclear weapons and missiles", said Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the United States-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS).

Bolton said Trump was still interested in meeting Kim again.

The report covers the Sakkanmol missile base in detail. The cancellation, which the US ascribed to scheduling issues, followed threats from North Korean officials to resume nuclear and missile testing unless USA sanctions are lifted.

Pyongyang has asked for "phased and synchronised measures" for denuclearisation, meaning the worldwide community would slowly relax or drop sanctions with each step in the denuclearisation process, rather than waiting until its completion.

While the administration seeks to continue its "maximum pressure" campaign against Kim's regime, momentum is building to ease worldwide sanctions put in place previous year, a move the U.S.is struggling to resist.

In past tweets, he's also said that the Iran nuclear threat is over.


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