WASHINGTON – U.S. analysts said Monday they have located 13 secret North Korean missile development sites, underscoring the challenge that the Trump administration faces in trying to reach its promised broad arms control agreement with Pyongyang.
The administration has said it is hopeful about eventually reaching an agreement with North Korea. President Donald Trump declared after his historic summit in June that with President Kim Jong Un there was “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” But a report based on satellite imagery shows the complexity posed by an extensive network of weapons facilities that the U.S. wants to neutralize, FOX NEWS reports.
A report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies has identified 13 secret facilities used to produce missiles and related technology. Although the sites are not launch facilities and in some cases are rudimentary, the authors of the report say they are hidden and illustrate the scope of the North’s weapons program and the country’s determination to conceal its military might.
“The dispersed deployment of these bases and distinctive tactics employed by ballistic missile units are combined with decades of extensive camouflage, concealment and deception practices to maximize the survival of its missile units from pre-emptive strikes and during wartime operations,” they said.
- These missile operating bases, which can be used for all classes of ballistic missile from short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) up to and including intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), would presumably have to be subject to declaration, verification, and dismantlement in any final and fully verifiable denuclearization deal.
- Missile operating bases are not launch facilities. While missiles could be launched from within them in an emergency, Korean People’s Army (KPA) operational procedures call for missile launchers to disperse from the bases to pre-surveyed or semi-prepared launch sites for operations.
- The dispersed deployment of these bases and distinctive tactics employed by ballistic missile units are combined with decades of extensive camouflage, concealment and deception practices to maximize the survival of its missile units from preemptive strikes and during wartime operations.
- The KPA’s Strategic Force—responsible for operating ballistic missiles—is both sizable and capable of inflicting significant damage even when its missiles are armed with only conventional warheads.
- Since his assumption of power in 2011, Kim Jong-un’s emphasis upon realistic training and increased operational readiness has extended to the Strategic Force.
Missile operating bases are permanent facilities that contain a unit’s headquarters, barracks, housing, support, maintenance, and storage facilities. Due to cultural factors and a military policy that states the North remains in a state of war, the majority of KPA missile operating bases display a number of distinct characteristics, including:
- They are generally rudimentary in nature, and with the exception of headquarters and cultural structures, possess few large buildings or paved roads.
- With only a few exceptions, they are located in mountainous terrain, often spread out within narrow dead-end valleys. This often results in their lacking significant physical security measures and having only a basic entrance security checkpoint.
- Excluding their associated agricultural support infrastructure, they are physically small.
- They almost always consist of a network of underground facilities (UGF) to house the unit’s transporter-erector-launchers (TELs) or mobile-erector-launchers (MELs), ready inventory of missiles and warheads, and various other technical/launch support vehicles and equipment.
- They are not launch facilities. While missiles could be launched from within these bases in an emergency, KPA ballistic missile tactics and doctrine call for TELs and MELs to disperse from missile operating bases to pre-surveyed and semi-prepared launch sites for operations.
- These bases simply do not have the appearance of missile operating bases as seen in the United States, Russia, China, or Europe. ABC 23 News
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.