The study claims that North Korea is hiding at least 13 nuclear-sensitive secret sites scattered across the country.
The information undermines the promise of a denuclearization of Pyongyang. A US study released on Monday said North Korea has at least 13 nuclear-capable mobile ballistic missile secret sites. Researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based research firm, add that these sites, not declared by the government, could be twenty.
The announcement comes as Donald Trump‘s flagship foreign policy initiative skates. The US president said the Singapore summit last June with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un paved the way for the denuclearization of the country. And since that meeting, the North has implemented several actions in this direction, renouncing its ballistic and nuclear tests, then dismantling a missile testing site. Pyongyang had also pledged, if the United States agreed to make concessions, to dismantle its main nuclear complex.
Missiles capable of hitting Japan and South Korea
The CSIS study therefore contradicts these efforts. “Everyone is afraid that Trump will accept a bad deal,” said Victor Cha, head of CSIS’s North Korean program at the New York Times, the first newspaper to report on the study under a headline evoking “big deception.” From Pyongyang. “They give us a single test site, they dismantle some other stuff, and in exchange, they get a peace deal,” he said.
Researchers relied on intelligence sources from several countries, North Korean defector reports, online data and satellite imagery. According to them, missile bases are scattered throughout the country in tunnels drilled in mountainous areas. The infrastructure is designed to allow the rapid release of missile launchers and their evacuation from firing sites. These would be intermediate-range missiles, able to hit Japan and South Korea, and are deployed within a belt 90 to 150 kilometers north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). which divides the peninsula. Shorter-range missiles are installed in a tactical belt between 40 and 90 kilometers from the DMZ.
South Korea knew these secret sites
But some analysts have nuanced the results of the study, as Daniel Pinston, a professor at Troy University in Seoul: “I do not see anything shattering, not really new information.” He adds that the Sakkanmol site described by the study is “known for a long time, at least for 20 years”. According to CSIS, this site is less than 150 km from Seoul. A viewpoint shared by Vipin Narang of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who tweeted, “Mr. Kim literally ordered the mass production of ballistic missiles on New Year’s Day 2018. He never offered to stop their production, let alone give it up. ” “Talking about deception” is misleading, he continues. “There is no agreement to violate”.
For its part, the South Korean presidency said that the South Korean and American intelligence services were already aware of the information contained in the report. The Sakkanmol base “has nothing to do with the ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile)”. “North Korea has never promised to get rid of its short-range missiles or close its missile bases,” a spokesman for the South Korean presidency, Kim Eui-kyeom, told reporters. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is pursuing a policy of enthusiastic dialogue with the North and this report further illustrates the need to discuss with Pyongyang the elimination of military threats, the spokesman said. misleading information “could” block “the dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.
Especially since negotiations between the two countries seem to be deadlocked after a meeting between the head of the American diplomacy Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un’s right arm, Kim Yong Chol has been postponed. North Korea has said it postponed the meeting last week in New York because “they were not ready,” said US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.