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North Korea has another secret missile base, and there are 19 more, report says

A photo released by KCNA news agency on March 12, 2013, shows North Korea leader Kim Jong Un visiting the Wolnae-do Defence Detachment on the western front line. (KCNA/Xinhua/Zuma Press/MCT/TNS)
January 22, 2019

Another secret missile base in North Korea has been unveiled by a new report, which makes the tally at least 20 secret missile bases in the country, according to a new report.

Researchers at Beyond Parallel, a project under the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), released a report on Monday in which they detailed the Sino-ri Missile Base and its supply of Nodong-1 medium-range ballistic missiles – the oldest of 20 secret missile bases in North Korea.

Beyond Parallel’s previous report in November had identified 16 secret missile bases, one of which had never before been identified.

“It looks like they’re trying to maximize their capabilities. Any missile at these bases can take a nuclear warhead,” the report’s author, Joseph Bermudez Jr., told The New York Times back in November.

According to the latest report, Sino-ri has “never been declared by North Korea” despite being one of the oldest undeclared bases and prominent as the “Strategic Rocket Forces Nodong missile brigade” headquarters.

The Nodong missiles are capable of reaching targets in South Korea, Japan and Guam.

The report includes satellite photos captured in late December, which shows underground entrances, shelters and a main headquarters building. Between two and five underground bunker entrances are fortified by rock and dirt mounds to shield them from attacks.

“Satellite imagery acquired during the past eight years continues to show minor infrastructure changes to the base that are consistent with what is often seen at remote KPA bases of all types,” the report noted.

“As of December 2018, the base is active and being reasonably well-maintained by North Korean standards,” the report declared.

The base, located approximately 212 kilometers (131 miles) north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), is 10.8 square kilometers (4.1 square miles). It includes “agricultural support, headquarters and support facilities, at least seven barracks areas distributed throughout the base,” according to the report.

Among the support facilities, researchers were able to identify “three drive-through vehicle sheds and a vehicle storage facility, three four-bay hardened vehicle shelters, and, unique among missile operating bases, a driver training course,” the report said.

The Sobaek-su Academy, a ballistic missile school, is located nearby, along with the Myodu-san training area. The academy trains Strategic Rocket Forces brigade officers and also facilitates ballistic missile research.

The latest report comes shortly after the confirmation of a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which will take place in late February.

President Trump has continued to cite progress in denuclearization discussions with North Korea.

On Sunday, he tweeted, “The Media is not giving us credit for the tremendous progress we have made with North Korea. Think of where we were at the end of the Obama Administration compared to now. Great meeting this week with top Reps. Looking forward to meeting with Chairman Kim at end of February!”

While North Korea has ceased some missile operations and dismantled some facilities, the report notes that doing so “obscures the military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from [Sino-ri] and other undeclared ballistic missile bases.”