Five months after Donald Trump declared he’d neutralized the threat from North Korea, commercial satellite imagery has identified 13 secret missile operating bases being used by Pyongyang to augment its ballistic missile program.
A think tank report published Monday, entitled “Undeclared North Korea: Missile Operating Bases Revealed,” claims a network of undeclared missile facilities is spread across the totalitarian state.
The bases are already known to U.S. intelligence agencies, according to sources speaking to the New York Times, but its public identification highlights how little has changed since Trump met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore for a much-touted summit, and the challenge for U.S. negotiators in pushing the the North Korean leader to give up his weapons.
The bases are “capable of inflicting significant damage even when its missiles are armed with only conventional warheads,” the report says, adding that the sites are also capable of taking nuclear missiles.
While Pyongyang has upheld its promise to stop missile launches since the June meeting, revelations of ongoing missile development will bolster the claims that Kim has no intention of giving up his nuclear arsenal.
“President Trump has made clear that should Chairman Kim follow through on his commitments, including complete denuclearization and the elimination of ballistic missile programs, a much brighter future lies ahead for North Korea and its people,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement responding to the new report.
The report was published by the Beyond Parallel program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a major Washington think tank. The program is run by North Korea expert Victor Cha, who was considered by the Trump administration as an ambassador to South Korea before he criticized the way the White House was dealing with Kim.
“It’s not like these bases have been frozen,” Cha told the New York Times. “Work is continuing. What everybody is worried about 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.”
Asked last week about the lack of movement on North Korea denuclearization in recent months, Trump told reporters: “We are in no rush. The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home.”
Along with continuing to build out its missile infrastructure, there is mounting evidence that the country is producing the fissile material needed to build more nuclear bombs.
A report from 38 North earlier this month revealed that the Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Pilot Plant, one of North Korea’s two largest declared uranium ore concentrate facilities, is continuing to operate as normal.
Cover image: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a joint news conference in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 19, 2018. (Pyongyang Press Corps/Pool via REUTERS)