New Satellite Images Show Hidden North Korea Missile Bases

Erika Holt
November 16, 2018

Our top story this morning.

North Korea has blown up two facilities - the Tongchang-ri test site and the obsolete Punggye-ri nuclear test site - and invited only non-experts to witness their destruction.

U.S. President Donald Trump has weighed in on a report that North Korea has at least 13 undeclared bases capable of hiding missiles, calling the report "fake news".

A Digital Globe satellite image taken on March 29, 2018 shows an undeclared missile operating base at Sakkanmol, North Korea.

He also said President Trump is ready for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"I think it is more than a scheduling issue", said Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a global affairs research group in Washington.

The report said: "Missile operating bases are not launch facilities".

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

Bases in the furthest, or "strategic", belt are more than 150km (93 miles) from the DMZ, and are likely to be equipped with the Hwasong class of missiles, which can reach the U.S. mainland, according to the report. The president said Tuesday that the reports of undeclared missile sites in no way changes his approach despite some media characterizing the news as a death knell for negotiations.

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The report was released less than a week after North Korea abruptly called off a new round of negotiations with Pompeo that had been set for Thursday in NY.

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

Not only has North Korea never pledged to abandon these sites described in the report, it has never pledged to acknowledge they exist, the spokesman reminded.

Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs Lee Do-hoon has been coordinating a schedule for talks with his United States counterpart Stephen Biegun to fine-tune details over the formation of the dialogue channel.

U.S. 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.

The administration has said it is hopeful about eventually reaching an agreement with North Korea. "It was a loosely worded joint agreement".

The Trump administration insists on "complete denuclearization" of North Korea and the elimination of its ballistic missile programs upfront - a nonstarter for a nation that remains deeply suspicious of the outside world and would never leave itself strategically vulnerable simply for the promise of economic gain.

"Note the description of nuclear weapons as the only firm security assurance", Pollack said. His negotiators, the argument goes, are continuing talks with the US and South Korea in the hope of getting other concessions along the way. They argued that the news was being spun to make it appear that Pyongyang was blatantly disregarding agreements with the US and actively ramping up its nuclear and missile programs.

Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News. He said that North Korea had done all the the testing it needs; now was the time to build up its arsenal.

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