North Korea hiding missile bases: US researchers

DECEPTION The communist state has around 16 hidden bases producing the devastating weapons

Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged during a historic June meeting in Singapore that they would work toward denuclearization, but they pledged little specifics in achieving their goal.

Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul, said South Korean and USA intelligence officials had been "closely watching" the sites using military satellites and that the CSIS report contained "nothing new". "I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!" he added.

North Korea called off a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in NY last week and said the resumption of military drills by South Korea and the US violated agreements aimed at lowering tensions in the region.

He took issue with a related New York Times report headlined, "In North Korea, missile bases suggest a great deception".

The CSIS report said the satellite imagery shows recent minor infrastructure changes, and as of November 2018 "the base is active and being reasonably well-maintained by North Korean standards".

Since the summit in Singapore, North Korea has forgone nuclear and missile tests, dismantled a missile test site and promised to also break up the country's main nuclear complex if the United States makes concessions.

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.

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

FILE - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), on October 7, 2018. It said they are scattered across the country and designed so that mobile missile launchers can quickly be taken out of the underground facilities and moved to launch sites.

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United States officials including Pompeo and Nikki Haley, Washington's ambassador to the UN, have insisted on North Korea's "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation" before approving any scaling back of UN Security Council sanctions meant to cut the country's external trade to humanitarian aid and small quantities of fuel.

New commercial satellite images made public yesterday reveal more than a dozen of these undeclared North Korean missile operating bases.

"It doesn't have to do with ICBM or IRBM", said Kim, regarding claims that it could accommodate other types of ballistic missiles.

Medium-range missiles capable of striking Japan and all of South Korea reportedly are deployed in an operational belt 90-150km north of the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula.

South Korea's presidential office said the report didn't include any information it didn't already know.

"I continue to believe that Pyongyang does not intend to give up its nuclear weapons capability", said Revere.

It's true that the North Korean missile program was never included in the Singapore statement signed by both leaders, and would not appear to breach any other agreements signed by Pyongyang.

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

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