North Korea has developed two long-range missile sites capable of launching nuclear warheads in the months since Donald Trump met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, satellite images obtained by CNN revealed Thursday.
The Yeongjeo-dong missile base and another, previously unreported site about seven miles away, have been significantly expanded and upgraded despite months of on-and-off talks with the U.S. aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
Their location in the North’s mountainous interior made them a potential launch site for the regime’s newest long-range nuclear missiles, according to experts from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.
“Whatever Kim says about his desire for denuclearization, North Korea continues to produce and deploy nuclear-armed missiles,” the Institute’s Jeffrey Lewis told CNN.
U.S. officials have said they cannot comment on intelligence matters.
The images underscore the gap between rhetoric and reality in talks to push North Korea to denuclearize. While Trump and Kim agreed in principle to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” in June, Pyongyang has taken no concrete steps to stop its nuclear or missile development programs.
“North Korea isn’t disarming. It never said it would,” Vipin Narang, a politics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said on Twitter. He said that while that was a concern to Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, Trump did not appear to be overly concerned about the reality on the ground.
“He has to be well aware of these developments. He just doesn’t care. Kim pretends to disarm and Trump pretends to believe him. That’ll get everyone to halftime.”
In recent months, North Korea has ceased ballistic missile tests, offered to dismantle some testing facilities, and released some American detainees — developments the U.S. has touted as progress.
But last month, North Korean state media reported that Kim had overseen the testing of a “newly developed ultramodern” tactical weapon — just days after commercial satellite imagery identified 13 secret missile operating bases being used by Pyongyang.
Trump said Saturday that he wanted to meet Kim again early next year, while Bolton said Tuesday that another summit was necessary due to the North’s failure to make progress on denuclearization.
“They have not lived up to the commitments so far,” he said at a D.C. conference. “That's why I think the president thinks that another summit is likely to be productive.”
Cover image: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un talks with South Korean envoy during their meeting on September 5, 2018 in Pyongyang, North Korea. (South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images)