North Korea’s undisclosed military missile bases besides its Dongchang-ri missile engine test site have been revealed. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), one of the largest think tanks in Washington, said that the regime has been operating at least 13 missile bases dispersed throughout the country. The U.S. intelligence authorities also confirmed this summer that the North was continuously producing nuclear materials. With Pyongyang believed to keep on its development of nuclear weapons and missiles while only refraining from conducting additional nuclear or missile tests, suspicions are being raised about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s willingness towards denuclearization.
In fact, Seoul and Washington have already had knowledge of the North’s missile bases through military satellites, but remained silent. This would cause controversy over Trump’s comment that there will be no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea, which he said on numerous occasions since the Singapore summit in June. The Democratic Party of the United States, which took the majority of the House of Representatives through the midterm elections, is saying that a second Trump-Kim meeting should not take place unless North Korea takes concreate actins to halt its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. It seems suspicions about Pyongyang’s sincerity will grow in the United States for a while with negotiations stuck in a deadlock.
Yet, the South Korean government still looks busy playing down the report on the North’s hidden missile sites. On Tuesday, presidential spokesman rebutted the report by stressing that the North has not promised to shut down the base, and there has been no accord or negotiations in connection with it. It is odd for the South Korean presidential office to step in to rebut reports by the U.S. think tanks and media in such a strong tone that makes one think of the words from North Korea itself. What the top office argues also lacks logic. The U.S. experts and media are taking issue with the North’s undisclosed missile bases, not because they are unaware of the fact that Pyongyang has not made any promise to shut them down, but because Kim should have halted the additional production of missiles and nuclear materials if he wanted his determination and promise to denuclearize to be trusted.
A U.S. State Department official said Monday that Kim’s commitments include “complete denuclearization and the elimination of ballistic missile programs.” Washington has also conveyed to the Japanese government its intent to resume South Korea-U.S. military drills next spring if there is no progress toward denuclearization. Yet, the North has not taken any steps for months since the shutdown of its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in May and the dismantlement of parts of its Tongchang-ri launch pad in July. Seoul should squarely face the reality and make Kim Jong Un realize that operating missile test sites in secret will only drive the regime into the worst isolation and block any discussions on sanctions relief from taking place.