Despite recent talks North Korea with US President Donald Trump about denuclearising it’s missile site, reporters have gathered pictures of North Korea expanding a military base and seems most likely has developed sites for deploying intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, two experts on the North’s missile programs said Thursday, citing new research based on satellite imagery.
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The Yeongjeo-dong missile base and the expansion of a new suspected missile facility are the latest indications that North Korea is continuing to improve its missile capabilities, said Jeffrey Lewis and David Schmerler of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California.
Dr. Lewis and Mr. Schmerler said “they were still not sure whether Yeongjeo-dong and the new facility under construction in nearby Hoejung-ni, both in the mountainous area near North Korea’s central border with China, were separate bases or parts of a larger single operation.”
And according to reports the sites make geographically ideal to “house long-range missiles,”
“The base is located in the interior of North Korea, backed up against the Chinese border,” they said. “It is this location that leads us to believe that the general area is a strong candidate for the deployment of future missiles that can strike the United States.”
Military planners in Seoul and Washington have long suspected that North Korea would deploy its intercontinental ballistic missiles to reduce the likelihood of pre-emptive strikes from the United States.
Dr. Lewis and Mr. Schmerler said that while closing the test stand would make it harder for the North to design new kinds of missiles, “it would not prevent North Korea from continuing to mass produce and deploy existing types of nuclear-armed missiles that can strike the United States.”
“Any denuclearization agreement would require North Korea to allow international inspectors to determine that these units are no longer armed with nuclear weapons,” they said.
Using satellite imagery, many tunnels have been located in Yeongjeo-dong that might be used for storing missiles and the construction of a new headquarters, as well as a pair of drive-through shelters in Hoejung-ni suitable for large ballistic missiles and “an extremely large underground facility” under construction further up a narrow valley.