An American think tank says North Korea has expanded a missile base near its border with China that would possibly be one of the sites to deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States.
According to Press TV, an analysis by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California said on Thursday that recent satellite imagery shows activities at the Yeongjeo-dong missile base.
The border site, which is near North Korea’s mountainous central border with China, “has long been a concern to US and South Korean officials because of its unique location,” the report said.
“Satellite images show that the base remains active. Moreover, in the past year North Korea has significantly expanded a nearby facility that appears to be another missile base,” said the Middlebury Institute report.
The report, which said the alleged under construction site is seven miles away from the already known missile base, noted that it is still unclear whether the two bases are separated, or whether one is subordinate to other.
Jeffrey Lewis and David Schmerler from the Middlebury Institute said that the geographic locations of Yeongjeo-dong and the nearby site make them “strong candidate for the deployment of future missiles that can strike the United States.”
“The base is located in the interior of North Korea, backed up against the Chinese border,” the two added.
Lewis told CNN that Pyongyang continued construction work on the previously unidentified site “even after the Singapore Summit" between North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in June.
"Whatever Kim says about his desire for denuclearization, North Korea continues to produce and deploy nuclear armed missiles,” he said.
Asked by CNN about the recent report, Pentagon Spokesperson Chris Logan said, “We watch North Korea very closely. We continue to support the diplomatic process. We will not discuss matters of intelligence.”
A South Korean Military Spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said on Thursday that the border missile site “is one of the important locations in North Korea our military is monitoring in cooperation with the United States. He, however, declined to provide further details.
In their June summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim agreed to work toward denuclearization, but that agreement, made in a written document, was broadly-worded.
Still, the North has suspended missile and nuclear testing, demolished at least one nuclear test site, and agreed to allow international inspectors into a missile engine test facility and another nuclear testing site.