Satellite images reveal activity at secret North Korean missile base, report says

Satellite images reveal activity at secret North Korean missile base, report says
Satellite pictures reportedly show activity at a secret North Korean missile base. (Source: CNN/Pool)

(CNN) – North Korea is preparing to talk peace with the U.S., but its instruments of war are fully up and running.

New satellite pictures show a secret North Korean missile base, which is reportedly just one among many.

It appears Kim Jong Un is continuing to operate a secret web of hidden missile bases, even while he corresponds with President Donald Trump about a second summit with the U.S. aim of getting rid of his nuclear weapons.

Researchers with the analysis group “Beyond Parallel” are out with a new report showing what they say are satellite pictures of ongoing operations at the missile-operating based called Sino-ri, which the group says North Korea has never acknowledged to exist.

“North Korea doesn’t necessarily develop its ballistic missiles here, but it does fuel them, prepare them for launch and can roll them out at any time, for in the case of a conflict situation,” said Lisa Collins, who co-authored the report. “And basically, they roll them out through these underground facilities and drive-thru facilities where they prepare for launch.”

The White House, the Department of State and U.S. intelligence agencies haven’t commented on the new report.

Beyond Parallel said Sino-ri is one of about 20 missile bases the North Koreans are secretly operating.

The group said the Sino-ri base is important because it might have played a role in the development of the Pukkuksong-2 ballistic missile, one of the country’s most advanced missiles, which was unveiled by Kim’s regime almost two years ago, shortly after Trump took office.

“It could not hit as far as the U.S. mainland,” Collins said. “It could probably, perhaps in some circumstances, hit as far as U.S. forces in Guam.”

Kim is not currently required to declare any of his missile bases, but in the future, as part of the negotiations over his nuclear program, the U.S. will likely insist that he declare bases like Sino-ri.

While Trump is credited with starting dialogue and decreasing tensions with the dictator, the president’s critics say he hasn’t been nearly tough enough with Kim about secret bases like Sino-ri.

“The North Koreans absolutely hoodwinked President Trump, and President Trump wanted to be hoodwinked,” said Jamie Metzl, a former National Security Council official. “It was clear from the beginning that the North Koreans were not agreeing to give up their nuclear and missile programs.”

Another key concern is that Sino-ri is close to where U.S. troops are stationed.

"You could do research and development in a location, and then roll those things out from that location and deploy them, fire them to the south,” said retired Gen. James Marks, a CNN military analyst. “There's no intelligence warning. There's no warning to U.S. troops."

The second Trump-Kim summit is set to take place in late February, but the location hasn’t been announced yet.

Analysts say North Korea is likely to resist declaring its secret bases even if the talks are successful.

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