A new report released by a Washington-based think-tank alleges that North Korea has a hidden network of ballistic missile bases hidden throughout its mountainous regions.
The report, published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, relied on the testimony of North Korean defectors, commercial satellite images, and discussions with intelligence agencies from multiple nations. Their investigation suggested that there may be 20 or more hidden bases scattered throughout the country. The Center believes that they have positively identified 13 of those bases already.
These bases, it’s important to note, are not actually launch facilities. Many of North Korea’s ballistic missiles are fired via mobile launcher; many of North Korea’s ICBMs, for instance, are fired from converted Chinese timber trucks. The installations the Center for Strategic and International Studies found are instead meant to protect their missile stockpiles. Each base couples camouflage with fortifications, intent on preventing a nation like the United States from finding and destroying the hidden weapons. Some of the bases that have been identified include tunnels that could conceal and protect up to 18 mobile missile launchers.
“It looks like they’re trying to maximize their capabilities,” said one of the report’s co-authors, Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. “The level of effort that North Korea has invested in building these bases and dispersing them is impressive. It’s very logical from a survival point of view.”
After verbal sparring through the media for months, President Donald Trump met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un earlier this year. Since then, President Trump has repeatedly told the public that North Korea has agreed to relinquish its pursuit of nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of sanctions first put into place as a result of that same pursuit. For its part, North Korea had made a number of symbolic gestures — including the destruction of a nuclear weapons testing facility that most experts agree likely already wasn’t in service.
This revelation may place continued peace talks between North Korea and United States in jeopardy. If the Center’s report proves true, it means North Korea has continued work on nuclear-capable ballistic missiles while lying to the American president about pursuing the path to peace. As a result, Trump now faces both a strategic threat in the form of North Korea’s missile stockpiles, and a political one. Since meeting with Kim, President Trump has repeatedly insinuated that his work staved off a war with North Korea. Now, it’s beginning to look like he may have just postponed it.