North & South Korea demolish army outposts as ties warm up

Hannah Rogers
November 15, 2018

Donald Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have portrayed the USA president's June summit with Kim in Singapore as an unprecedented breakthrough, and pointed to the partial dismantling of a nuclear test site and a missile engine test area as side of progress towards North Korean disarmament.

A Washington think tank released a report Monday identifying more than a dozen hidden missile bases North Korea has kept up and running even as President Trump touts his work on denuclearization with Kim Jong Un.

"North Korea's decommissioning of the Sohae satellite launch facility, while gaining much media attention, obscures the military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases", the CSIS report said.

"What everybody is anxious about", Cha insists, "is that Trump is going to accept a bad deal - they give us a single test site and dismantle a few other things, and in return they get a peace agreement" that formally ends the Korean War.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington says they have found at least 13 missile operating bases that were not declared by Pyongyang.

USA analysts said Monday they have located 13 secret North Korean missile development sites, underscoring the challenge that the Trump administration faces in trying to reach its promised broad arms control agreement with Pyongyang.

Photo An unidentified military facility next to the Sakkanmol missile base.

The North and South Korean militaries completed withdrawing troops and firearms from 22 front-line guard posts on Saturday as they continue to implement a wide-ranging agreement reached in September to reduce tensions across the world's most fortified border, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said.

The US, meanwhile, has delayed approval of several requests for exemptions to United Nations sanctions to deliver tractors, spare parts and other humanitarian relief supplies to North Korea, according to documents seen last week by AFP.

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None of the missile bases has been acknowledged by North Korea and analysts say an accurate disclosure of nuclear weapons and missile capabilities would be an important part of any denuclearization deal. They would then drive away to one of a number of preselected sites from which they could launch their missiles.

Bases for shorter range missiles fit into a tactical belt 30 to 55 miles from the DMZ.

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

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

The base "conceals seven lengthy tunnels that can accommodate up to 18 transporters that move the missiles".

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.

However, plans for a second meeting could be in jeopardy after leading regime figure Kim Yong-chol failed to turn up for a meeting in NY with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Pyongyang may have wanted the missile sites to be seen, suggested David Maxwell, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, to keep the pressure on in negotiations.

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