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New satellite images show North Korean missile sites being upgraded, expanded: report

On July 10, 2018, in Pyongyang, North Korea, Kim Jong Un, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, inspects a construction site at Samjiyon County in the Mount Paektu region. (Kcna/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)
December 06, 2018

New satellite images have revealed more activity on North Korean missile sites.

The latest images exclusively obtained by CNN convey recent construction activity at a long-range missile base in the mountains of North Korea, which indicates upgrades and expansions.

The activity is taking place at the Yeongjeo-dong missile site, which is well-known to intelligence officials in the U.S. However, the images also revealed construction at a nearby site that has reportedly never been identified until this week.

“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,” said a report by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Although located just seven miles apart, it’s not clear whether the two bases are linked, or operate independently.

Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Chris Logan told CNN, “We watch North Korea very closely. We continue to support the diplomatic process. We will not discuss matters of intelligence.”

The South Korean Defense Ministry said the Yeongjeo-ri missile site is “one of the important North Korean sites that is being tracked and surveilled in cooperation with the United States.”

The recent findings suggest North Korea’s intentions against denuclearization, despite ongoing negotiations with the U.S.

Middlebury Institute analyst Jeffrey Lewis, who was among those who identified the latest missile site, told CNN, “Whatever Kim says about his desire for denuclearization, North Korea continues to produce and deploy nuclear armed missiles.”

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has repeatedly reiterated his pledge to denuclearize, even as recently as September. Then, he pledged to permanently shut down the Nyongbyon missile site, much to President Trump’s satisfaction.

However, negotiations and progress on denuclearization have been slow, as North Korea demands reciprocal action from the U.S. for each denuclearization measure they take.

Just last month, U.S. intelligence analysts used satellite imagery to uncover 16 of 20 suspected missile sites in North Korea.

The sites were not launch facilities, but still conveyed North Korea’s continuance of secret activities and its quest to maintain its weapons program.

“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,” said the Center for Strategic and International Studies, according to Time Magazine.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said Trump should hold another summit with Kim.

“They have not lived up to the commitments so far,” he said of North Korea.