US officials have long said they are not surprised by similar open source findings
, but have declined to offer any additional response when other sites have been identified.
We watch North Korea very closely. We continue to support the diplomatic process. We will not discuss matters of intelligence,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Chris Logan told CNN.
The State Department declined to comment, saying it doesn’t discuss intelligence matters.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry, citing the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged Yeongjeo-ri is a missile base and is “one of the important North Korean sites that is being tracked and surveilled in cooperation with the United States.”
A spokesman for the ministry refused to comment further, saying “it is not appropriate for our military to officially acknowledge the content of a foreign media report.”
While Kim is not violating any agreement with the US or South Korea by continuing to produce and deploy existing types of missiles, the identification of yet another active North Korean missile base comes at a time when some members of the Trump administration are declaring that Pyongyang has failed to uphold its end of the bargain thus far.
National security adviser John Bolton said Tuesday that Trump believes he should hold a second summit with Kim because the North Korean leader hasn’t lived up to commitments he made during their first meeting.
“They have not lived up to the commitments so far,” Bolton said at The Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO Council conference in Washington. “That’s why I think the President thinks that another summit is likely to be productive.”
Bolton said the US would press ahead with a second meeting shortly after the start of the new year — saying, “January, February” — in the hope of making further progress. He said the Trump administration would not lift hefty economic sanctions against the regime until then.
Trump has often touted North Korea’s lack of ballistic missile tests in recent months as a sign of diplomatic progress and said Kim’s offer to dismantle some testing facilities signals the North Korean leader is serious about denuclearizing.
But while Trump maintains that Kim committed to fully denuclearize during their summit in Singapore this summer, the truth is that the meeting only yielded a vaguely worded agreement, in which the two leaders pledged to build a “lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula” and to “work toward complete denuclearization” of the peninsula.
The Trump administration has also continued to insist on the elimination of North Korea’s ballistic missile programs upfront — a nonstarter for a nation that remains deeply suspicious of the outside world and would never leave itself strategically vulnerable simply for the promise of economic gain.
While closing test facilities would make it harder for North Korea to develop new types of warheads, that step would do little to prevent Kim from continuing to mass produce and deploy existing types of nuclear-armed missiles, as he publicly said in January he would continue to do.
“Those missiles are being deployed at bases throughout North Korea, many of which have long been known to outside analysts. Any denuclearization agreement would require North Korea to allow international inspectors to determine that these units are no longer armed with nuclear weapons,” according to the report from Lewis and Schmerler.
The Trump Administration has publicly promised to secure access to North Korea military facilities as part of any agreement,” the report states.
Bolton’s comments Tuesday underscored the lack of progress the US has made in moving North Korea closer to the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization Washington is seeking, and the concessions it has been making to Pyongyang, even as Trump has stressed the warmth of his relationship with Kim.
Last month, Vice President Mike Pence told NBC News that the US will not require
North Korea to provide a full list of its nuclear and missile sites before Trump meets again with Kim.(Zachary Cohen