North Korea missile base 'active,' US analysts say

South Korea

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On Monday, North Korean state media claimed the U.S.'s joint military drills with South Korea, which restarted last week, violate the so-called inter-Korean military agreement.

North Korea has made a show out of de-commissioning both the Sohae satellite launch facility and the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site. however, reports by two separate groups of Chinese scientists from April suggest that the Punggye-ri site may have been decommissioned after it caused a nearby mountain to collapse.

But despite Trump's description of progress, North Korea has repeatedly lashed out at the USA and threatened to resume building up its "nuclear forces".

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been set to meet a top North Korean official on Thursday in NY to prepare a second summit and work on a potentially landmark deal on ending the totalitarian state's nuclear program.

The report is the latest evidence that while North Korea has indeed stopped its missile testing, it is far from dismantling its weapons facilities.

In July, The Washington Post said United States intelligence agencies have found that North Korea is building new missiles, based on satellite photographs taken at the time and other new evidence.

The existence of the bases does not represent a violation of the agreement Kim made with Trump at the summit, which involved vaguely-worded pledges on the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", which Pyongyang interprets as a gradual, staged and reciprocal process of disarmament.

For the time being, Pyongyang appears to sticking to a self-imposed moratorium on testing in return for a pause in USA military exercises with South Korea which Trump ordered after the Singapore summit.

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Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said at a parliamentary committee Monday that 3,836 mines have been removed as of October 26 on the North Korean side of an excavation site in the DMZ, a four-kilometer-wide strip of land that has divided the Korean peninsula since an armistice accord ended the three-year conflict in 1953.

Although not designed as launch sites, the bases could be used to launch short-range as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles. "While missiles could be launched from within them in an emergency, Korean People's Army (KPA) operational procedures call for missile launchers to disperse from the bases to pre-surveyed or semi-prepared launch sites for operations".

The bases are arranged in 3 belts across North Korea, according to the report, with those for strategic missiles deep inside the country.

South and North Korea had separately planned to conduct a joint survey of cross-border railway lines in the western region in late October, but it has yet to begin as consultations with the USA have not been completed.

Trump has said he hopes to meet again soon with Kim, but there are signs of growing friction in the negotiations with North Korean officials, which appear to have stalled.

United States officials have largely opposed these moves to reduce military forces along the tense border, mostly because they are resisting pushes by both Koreas to quickly finalize a peace treaty.

The prospects for the joint project, however, remain unclear as it is apparently faced with opposition from the United States, which has voiced concerns over faster progress in inter-Korean relations than in denuclearization talks with North Korea.

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