North Korea is reportedly taking steps to protect its nuclear and missile stockpiles from potential military strikes, a confidential 317-page report to a UN Security Council sanctions committee revealed this week. Obtained by Reuters on 04 February 2019, the report claims that UN monitors had "found evidence of a consistent trend on the part of the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to disperse its assembly, storage and testing location." The UN report explained that Pyongyang was using "civilian facilities, including airports, for ballistic missile assembly and testing with the goal of effectively preventing ‘decapitation strikes' on a smaller number of identified nuclear and missile assembly and manufacturing sites."
A US-based think tank said it has identified at least 13 of an estimated 20 "undeclared" missile operating bases within North Korea. In a report published on 12 November 2018, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said maintenance and minor infrastructure improvements have been witnessed at some of the sites, despite the ongoing negotiations aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula that began earlier this year. Based on satellite images, the report also explained a missile base where short-range ballistic missiles have been launched in the past, seems to be still active, and it could also accommodate medium-range ballistic missiles.
Such evidence seemed to some to contradict Donald Trump's assertions that Pyeongyang is moving towards eradicating all its nuclear and missile programs, and further challenging the efforts of Seoul, Washington and the international community to denuclearize the regime. But the satellite images were taken in March -- even before North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump. And though the report said the facilities discovered were "undeclared," the North had never agreed to submit an inventory of its nuclear capabilities in the first place. So it could be a stretch to say the data suggest the regime has fallen short of its promises to denuclearize.
Various media outlets requested a response from the U.S. State Department on the latest report claiming North Korea has more than a dozen undeclared missile bases. While the State Department did not explicitly say whether they viewed the bases as a violation of any agreements with the U.S., they simply reiterated the promise North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made during his summit with President Donald Trump -- to denuclearize and end Pyeongyang's missile programs. Radio Free Asia reported 13 November 2018 that when asked whether the hidden sites went against the spirit of the summit, a State Department official said President Trump made it clear that the North has a brighter future should Kim make good on his commitments.
But Democrats in Washington thought differently. Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that "President Trump is getting played by Kim Jong-un". He added Washington cannot have another summit with Pyeongyang, unless the regime takes "concrete, tangible actions" to halt and roll back its nuclear and missile programs.
The issue was also raised to the South Korean government. Blue House Spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom told reporters that Seoul and Washington have been aware of the missile bases through their military satellites, and that the allies will continue to keep their eyes on them. He also said it would not be appropriate to call the undeclared missile sites a "deception" by North Korea, as worded by numerous U.S. media, since the North has not yet agreed to dismantle its missile bases, nor is the regime tied to a treaty or a deal to do so. North Korea has said it has closed its Punggye-ri nuclear test site, and that it would close other facilities should the U.S. take "corresponding measures." Kim also said that the latest spill, rather shows the reason why negotiation between Pyeongyang and Washington must take place soon.
An article in the Washington Post was also in line with Seoul's top office. The report cited numerous analysts and claimed the bases do not mean North Korea is cheating on its agreement with the U.S. as there is no nuclear deal in place yet with Washington. With North Korea and the U.S. in a stalemate again, it remains to be seen how the latest report will affect their talks, and possibly the planned second North Korea-U.S. summit slated for early next year.
North Korean No. 125 Factory, or “Pyongyang Pig Factory” as it is called by North Korea, in Pyongyang, produces surface-to-ship SCUD missiles. Scud-D missiles were assembled at ‘Shin-eum-ri Factory’ near Pyongyang, the rocket engines were made at ‘January 8th Factory’ in Kaechon, the missile bodies were manufactured at ‘No. 26 Factory’ in Namchondong, and chemical warheads at ‘Namheung Chemical Factory’. While the primary responsibility for the development of the Taepodong and Unha systems lay with the No. 7 Factory of the Second Academy of Natural Sciences (SANS), the Tae-sung Machine Factory had been associated with the production phase of these systems.
According to Choi Ju-hwal, who in 1995 defected from his post as Colonel and Chief of joint venture section of Yung-Seong Trading Company under the Ministry of People's Army, as well as other defectors, missile production facilities include:
- 7 Factory near Man'gyongdae-ri [Mankeyungdae]
- 26 Factory in Kanggye of Chagangdo Province [Kangkye of Jakangdo]
- 118 Factory in Kagamri, Kaecheon-kun in the southern province of Pyongahn
- 125 Factory [also called the "Pyongyang Pig Factory"] in the Hyengjesan Area of Pyongyang
- 301 Factory in Taegwan-up [according to The Armed Forces of North Korea by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr (February 2001), which is the first and only source to mention this facility or location].
- Yakjeon Machinery Factory in Man'gyongdae-ri [Mankeyungdae, also known as Man'gyongdae and Mankeidai]
North Korea has a brigade-sized SCUD B/C surface-to-surface missile (SSM) unit about 50 kilometers north of the DMZ at Chiha-ri, which is the main technical support base for North Korea's Scud missile brigade. In addition, several SCUD B/C facilities have also been noted in development near the DMZ. These facilities would provide North Korea with additional hardened sites that could double or triple the numbers of SSM launchers and support equipment in the forward area. There is also an intermediate range rocket base at Sangwon-gunin Pyongyang.
According to Im Young-sun, a defector from North Korea and former leader of guard platoon in the Military Construction Bureau of the People's Armed Forces Ministry, North Korea has deployed missiles at a number of facilities:
- a missile base on Mayang Island, Mayang-ri, Shinpo City, South Hamgyong Province was completed in late 1980.
- an intermediate-range missile base on Mt. Kanggamchan located on the opposite side of the Kane-po Fisheries Cooperatives in Jungsan County, South Pyongan Province was completed around 1985. A North Korean Navy surface-to-ship missile base was completed in early 1990 on the same site.
- a long-range missile base in Paekun-ri, Kusong County, North Pyong-an Province was completed in 1986.
- the No-dong missile base in Hwadae County, North Hamgyong Province was completed in 1988. The Taepo-Dong missile base in Hwadae County is an underground facility with surface-to-surface missiles designed to hit Japan. For security reasons, all inhabitants residing in the area within a radius of 80 Km of this base were reportedly ordered to move out.
- a missile base in Chunggang-up [Chungganjin], Huchang County, Jagang Province was started in 1990 and completed in 1995. This base was targeted at Okinawa.
- an underground missile base in Ok'pyong-nodongjagu [Ok-pyong Rodongja-ku], Munchon County, Kangwon Province was started in 1991, and scheduled for completion by 1997 or 1998. Missiles at the facility are targeted at Japan and US military bases in Japan.
- a long-range surface-to-surface missile base in Doksong County [probably Toksong-gun 40°25'00"N 128°10'00"E], South Hamgyong Province was under construction in the 1990s.
Other facilities reported by The Armed Forces of North Korea by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr (February 2001) include:
- Oryu-ri in Pyongyang-si
- To-gol located within 9 km of Chiha-ri which was said to have been completed in 1988 by the 117th Engineer Regiment.
- Yongo-dong which was said to have been completed in 1999-2000
- Komdok-san in Hwadae-gun
- Myongch'on in Myongch'on-gun
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