North Korea expands long-range missile base as Trump seeks second summit

Kim left and South Korean President Moon Jae In right walk together to their meeting at the northern side of Panmunjom in North Korea

Two North Korean missile bases have been active and expanding, according to analysis of satellite images by CNN.

While the base at Yeongjeo-dong has always been known to U.S. intelligence agencies and analysts, researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told CNN that the images reveal construction on a new facility just seven miles away from the older site that had not been previously publicly identified.

In a report published last month, a Washington-based research institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said it had located more than a dozen North Korean missile bases still in operation.

As of August 2018, researchers said North Korea is continuing to construct an extremely large underground facility.

President Trump, who met with Kim during a summit in Singapore in June, supports Kim traveling to South Korea and thinks it could pave the way for another summit after the first of the year.

"Whatever Kim says about his desire for denuclearisation, North Korea continues to produce and deploy nuclear armed missiles".

The North officially suspended its nuclear and missile tests ahead of the June summit, and missile production and deployment does not technically violate any agreement between Pyongyang and the United States and South Korea.

"Our analytical line has not changed" a USA intelligence official told VOA, when asked about the images.

"North Korea isn't disarming. We will not discuss matters of intelligence". That includes missiles capable of reaching not just California, but anywhere in the United States.

A spokesman for the ministry refused to comment further, saying "it is not appropriate for our military to officially acknowledge the content of a foreign media report".

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John Bolton, the USA national security adviser, told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week that President Trump believes he should hold a second summit with Kim early next year as the North Koreans "have not lived up to the commitments" of their first deal in June. "That's why I think the President thinks that another summit is likely to be productive".

But their geographic locations make them ideal to "house long-range missiles", they said in a report they were preparing.

Despite the deadlock, Trump has said he and Kim are "getting along very well" and have a "good relationship".

Workers paint a North Korean flag atop a building on Kim Il-Sung square on July 7, 2016.

The Trump administration has also continued to insist on the elimination of North Korea's ballistic missile programs upfront - a nonstarter for a nation that remains deeply suspicious of the outside world and would never leave itself strategically vulnerable simply for the promise of economic gain. His administration has also repeatedly claimed progress in talks with North Korea, citing the lack of nuclear and ballistic missile tests since the country launched its Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile in November of a year ago.

But despite the meetings and ongoing talks, many in Washington remain skeptical of the North Korea's seriousness.

His remarks come as the North has protested the sanctions regime, contributing to the recent impasse in U.S.

President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. However, Pyongyang has recently also shown frustration with Washington for refusing to meet its concessions. Analysts said that by relaxing its demands ahead of a second summit, the USA may have blinked first. Despite summit talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, satellite footage showed that Pyongyang was continuing its missile program.

Lewis and Schmerler said they were still not sure whether Yeongjeo-dong and the new facility under construction in nearby Hoejung-ni, both in the mountainous area near North Korea's central border with China, were separate bases or parts of a larger single operation.

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