Published: Wed, November 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Donald Trump Says North Korean Missile Sites "Nothing New"

Donald Trump Says North Korean Missile Sites

North Korea is operating at least 13 undeclared bases to hide mobile, nuclear-capable missiles, a new study released Monday has found, raising fresh doubts over US President Donald Trump's signature foreign policy initiative.

"There is nothing new" here, Kim Eui Keum, spokesman to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told a briefing Tuesday.

He assured Americans that he would respond accordingly if North Korea's actions posed a threat.

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.

Just as the United States has increased its sanctions on Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not retreated from his pledge to expand his operational force of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles, increasing his leverage under any denuclearization deal. What [the CSIS reports show] is how hard it will be to really cap the programme.

President Trump's response was short and to the point.

The bases show "how far the reality. diverges from the claim that the negotiations have already succeeded", Sue Mi Terry, a senior fellow at CSIS, tweeted.

"The story in the New York Timesconcerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate", he said, referring to information revealed in a report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies and shared by The New York Times. "It has never signed any agreement, any negotiation that makes shutting down missile bases mandatory".

North Korea recently warned, however, it could restart its nuclear program if the United States does not drop its campaign of "maximum pressure" and sanctions.

Trump expressed confidence in Kim's denuclearization promises, even amid skepticism in Washington.

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The report said Sakkanmol, the site closest to the border with South Korea and its capital Seoul, appears to be "active and being reasonably well maintained". "It was a loosely worded joint agreement".

"And of course, no one seriously believes that North Korea's underlying capability has been neutralised".

Many observers, including the Central Intelligence Agency, believe that Kim has no intention of ever giving up his nuclear weapons.

Adding to recent troubles with denuclearization talks, North Korea has continued to lash out at the US and threatened to resume building up its "nuclear forces".

The existence of the bases - which presumably would have to be declared and then dismantled under the US goal of North Korean "denuclearization" - suggests that Pyongyang's previous efforts to dismantle known missile launch sites or nuclear facilities had little impact on its nuclear program.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, scheduled for last Thursday in NY was canceled. He said that North Korea had done all the the testing it needs; now was the time to build up its arsenal.

"The dispersed deployment of these bases and distinctive tactics employed by ballistic missile units are combined with decades of extensive camouflage, concealment and deception practices to maximise the survival of its missile units from pre-emptive strikes and during wartime operations", it said.

In this sense, North Korea continuing production at a network of secret bases should come as little surprise.

Bolton said Trump was still interested in meeting Kim again.

Stella Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea; Alexander Smith reported from London.

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