North Korea is continuing to develop its nuclear missile program in a web of secret bases, say analysts with a Washington-based think tank.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), satellite imagery has revealed over a dozen facilities in which the North is allegedly manufacturing missile technology and maintaining missiles.
CSIS analysts speculate as many as 20 bases could be covertly operating in North Korea.
Discovered by Team Parallel, a team of experts studying North Korea at CSIS, the conclusions drawn revealed:
“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.”
Team Parallel also highlighted a previously-undisclosed base at Sakkanmol, from which short-range ballistic missiles are capable of launching. Team Parallel also surmises Sakkanmol is capable of accommodating medium-range ballistic missiles.
Of paramount concern is Sakkanmol’s proximity to South Korea. The base is located just 50 miles from the frontier separating the two countries and easily places the South Korea’s capital, Seoul, within striking range of North Korean missiles.
Despite the analysis of the satellite imagery and its public revelation, South Korean officials attempted to tamp down concern over the existence of the bases.
South Korea’s Cheong Wa Dae said Monday the CSIS account of the North’s facilities, while accurate, has been known to South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies for months.
Moreover, when addressing media, Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom drew attention to the months old imagery and added Beyond Parallel relied on commercial satellites over military imagery.
“The intelligence authorities of South Korea and the US have far more detailed information from military satellites and are closely monitoring (it),” Kim said.
Mr. Kim added the sites located by CSIS were not in violation of any negotiated agreement with South Korea or the U.S., and the existence of the bases accentuates the need for further dialogue with Pyongyang.
[Beyond Parallel] [Yonhap via Korea Herald] [Photo courtesy KCNA via Reuters]