December 07, 2018 10:47
New satellite pictures suggest that North Korea has significantly expanded a ballistic missile base in Yeongjeo-dong in the country's mountainous interior, CNN reported Thursday.
Construction of new facilities has continued there even after the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June and it could be building a missile capable of attacking the U.S. there.
"The satellite imagery offers evidence that the Yeongjeo-dong missile base and a nearby, previously unreported site remain active and have been continuously upgraded," CNN said. "While the base at Yeongjeo-dong has long been known to US intelligence agencies and analysts, the images reveal construction on a new facility just seven miles away from the older site that had not been previously publicly identified."
"It's one of several major bases our military has kept under surveillance in cooperation with the U.S.," a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said.
CNN published 11 satellite images of the base on its website, some showing how it has been expanded from 2013 to 2018.
"The images indicate that North Korea was building an extremely large underground facility in 2017 and that this facility was still under construction as of August 2018," CNN said.
Citing researchers at the Middlebury Institute, CNN said, "The site's unique location makes it a strong candidate to receive North Korea's newest long-range missiles, including those that can carry nuclear weapons and can strike the United States."
In 1999, Yeongjeo-dong was a base for the short-range Rodong missiles, but it now seems to be capable of handling ICBMs.
"The missile bases in Yeongjeo-dong and Hoejeong-ri are located in the northernmost regions only about 20 km from the North Korea-China border. So South Korean and U.S. air forces would find it difficult to launch an air strike on it for fear of an intervention by the Chinese military," a military source here said.
The development offers "yet another reminder that diplomatic talks with the U.S. have done little to prevent [leader] Kim Jong-un from pursuing his promise to mass produce and deploy the existing types of nuclear warheads in his arsenal," CNN concluded.
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