Washington: North Korea has expanded a long-range missile base situated in the hilly interiors of the nation, new satellite images have confirmed. The images have also confirmed the existence of a previously unknown site.
The images, exclusively obtained by CNN, add weight to the argument that the recent talks of denuclearisation with the United States have not deterred North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s resolve to mass produce nuclear warheads.
The satellite imagery provides proof that the Yeongjeo-dong base, along with the previously unknown site, is still active and has been regularly upgraded, highlighting the gap between what was promised during the denuclearisation talks, which have been held for almost five months, and the ground reality.
Researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Monterey told CNN that while the Yeongjeo-dong base has been known to US authorities, the new satellite images show evidence of construction on a facility approximately eleven kilometres away that was not previously known.
“Satellite images show that the base remains active. Moreover, in the past year North Korea has significantly expanded a nearby facility that appears to be another missile base,” a report stated, adding that it is not confirmed whether the two sites are separate or if one of them is subordinate to the other.
North Korea was constructing a huge underground facility in 2017, with the images confirming the construction was still underway as of August 2018.
“Construction on the previously unidentified site has continued even after the Singapore Summit. Whatever Kim says about his desire for denuclearisation, North Korea continues to produce and deploy nuclear-armed missiles,” Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told CNN.
Lewis and his colleague David Schmerler said that the site’s location makes it a prime candidate to receive the country’s latest long-range missiles, ones that can carry nuclear weapons and can hit a target in the US mainland.
“We watch North Korea very closely. We continue to support the diplomatic process. We will not discuss matters of intelligence,” Pentagon’s spokesperson Lt. Col. Chris Logan said.
Although North Korea is not in violation of any agreement with South Korea or the US, the confirmation of another active missile site comes amid a disgruntled President Donald Trump-led Administration, members of which have often accused the country of not having held up their end of the bargain.
National Security Adviser John Bolton has urged President Donald Trump to hold a second summit with Kim as he believes that “they have not lived up to the commitments so far”.
He further stated that Washington D. C. will press for a second meeting after the turn of the year, hinting at a possible summit by January or February, adding that the US will not lift the economic sanctions on the country until after the second meeting.