North Korea resumes ballistic missile program, maintains bases despite halt in launches

Posted November 15, 2018

Although the sites are not usually used for missile launches and in some cases are rudimentary, the authors of the report from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies say they are hidden and illustrate the scope of the North's weapons program and the country's determination to hide its military might.

On Monday, state controlled media said that small-scale military drills by a few hundred usa marines and South Korean forces represented a violation of a summit agreement between Kim and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in.

They suggest Pyongyang is continuing its missile work, even though it has halted test launches in what President Donald Trump and his Government have claimed as a success since his historic June meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.

But despite Trump's description of progress, North Korea has repeatedly lashed out at the USA and threatened to resume building up its "nuclear forces".

North Korea has been engaging in major deception by offering to dismantle a launching site at the same time it secretly continues to make improvements at 16 hidden bases that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads, The New York Times reported on Monday.

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North Korea analysts not involved in the report said the findings were not surprising given Pyongyang's past activities but were still cause for concern.

The Trump administration has touched on the possibility of resuming the two major spring exercises with South Korea known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, the sources said.

Last week North Korea called off a planned meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in NY "because they weren't ready", U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Friday.

He said the Blue House decided on such a huge amount as it wanted as many North Koreans as possible to taste them.

The secret missile bases are, notably, not launch sites.

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But South and North Korea have conducted a number of inter-Korean projects created to lower tensions, including joint sports and cultural events, closing some guardposts along their shared border, and regular high-level negotiations.

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

North Korea abruptly pulled out of planned talks with Pompeo in NY last week, and have so far not sent a delegation to talk to the newly appointed U.S. envoy for North Korean talks, Stephen Biegun.

CSIS said that while these were operating bases and not launch sites, they could be used as launch sites if necessary.

The bases, according to experts, tend to be "rudimentary in nature" and feature underground tunnels for the storage of transporter erector launchers (TELs) and mobile erector launchers (MELs) that could be rolled out and dispersed to pre-prepared launch sites.

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He added that Trump's policy of "maximum pressure will be fully in place as of tomorrow". Iran is the world's No. 3 oil exporter.

"We made more progress in that four or five months (since the summit) than they have made in 70 years", he said, referring to previous U.S. leaders.