Hidden North Korean missile sites are 'nothing new,' South Korea says

DECEPTION The communist state has around 16 hidden bases producing the devastating weapons

"We can not have another summit with North Korea - not with President Trump, not with the secretary of state - unless and until the Kim regime takes concrete, tangible actions to halt and roll back its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs", Markey said in a statement Monday.

"We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new - and nothing happening out of the normal", Trump wrote in a post on Twitter, referring to a report on Monday in the New York Times.

The report is also based on satellite images taken in March, which was three months before the first-ever summit between the leaders of North Korea and the U.S.

South Korea's presidential office said that South Korea and the United States have been aware of the North Korean missile base, which a US think tank revealed and claimed to be active based on commercial satellite images.

Beyond Parallel has located 13 of what it calls an estimated 20 "undeclared" North Korean missile bases.

President Trump on Tuesday pushed back on reports North Korea has several secret, smaller missile bases stashed in the mountains, calling the claims "inaccurate" and "just more fake news".

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He also said President Trump is ready for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"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", the report had said.

He specifically criticized any suggestion that the bases constituted a "deception" by the North Koreans, or that there was any agreement that required Pyongyang to declare the existence of the bases. "It has never signed any agreement, any negotiation that makes shutting down missile bases mandatory".

North Korea offered to dismantle a major launching site following talks with the US. They noted that Kim had not agreed to halt either nuclear weapons or missile development in negotiations with Trump or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

As time goes by, North Korea's likely expansion of its arsenal could force Washington to rethink its insistence on full denuclearization, said Moon Hong-sik, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul.

The new images focus on the Sakkanmol missile base that "currently houses a unit equipped with short-range ballistic missiles but could easily accommodate more capable medium-range ballistic warheads".

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Kim said such suggestions can "trigger misunderstanding and potentially block dialogue ... at a time when we need dialogue between North Korea and the United States".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, scheduled for last Thursday in NY was canceled.

"I assume the meeting was delayed because both sides realized that significant progress is not possible at this time, due to the major differences between the USA and [North Korea] on denuclearization", said Samore.

While the administration seeks to continue its "maximum pressure" campaign against Kim's regime, momentum is building to ease worldwide sanctions put in place a year ago, a move the U.S.is struggling to resist.

In the meantime, sanctions against Pyongyang will remain in place.

The report included a detailed profile of one such tactical missile operating base, illustrated with commercial satellite imagery, just 135km north-west of Seoul.

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Many observers, including the Central Intelligence Agency, believe that Kim has no intention of ever giving up his nuclear weapons.

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