- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2019

The North Korean military has as many as 20 secretive, undeclared missile bases peppered around the country’s mountainous terrain, according to a report Monday that claims researchers recently discovered one of the bases focused exclusively on medium-range ballistic missile operations.

The report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, comes amid news that President Trump will soon hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — at which U.S. officials say Mr. Trump will be calling for Pyongyang to acknowledge all of its nuclear and ballistic missile facilities.

While there was no immediate comment from the administration on Monday’s report, the findings indicate independent researchers have already identified dozens of facilities in North Korea that have not been publicly disclosed by the Kim regime.

The report said one particular base, known as “Sino-ri,” houses a “regiment-sized unit equipped with Nodong-1 medium-range ballistic missiles” and is “one of the oldest of approximately 20 undeclared missile operating bases” run by North Korea’s military.

The base is situated roughly 130 miles north of the border between North and South Korea and researchers believe it serves “as the headquarters of the Strategic Rocket Forces Nodong missile brigade,” the report said. “It may have also played a role in the development of the newest Pukkuksong-2 (KN-15) ballistic missile first tested or unveiled on February 12, 2017, shortly after Donald Trump’s inauguration as president.”

U.S. officials have long said a primary concern over North Korea’s missile operations is that Pyongyang will attach nuclear warheads to intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the U.S. homeland.

With that as a backdrop, Trump administration and North Korean officials began their first “working level” talks on denuclearization over the weekend in Sweden, preparing for the second Trump-Kim summit that U.S. officials say is slated to occur by the end of February.

While the administration was mum on the talks in Stockholm, which represents U.S. interests in North Korea because Washington has no embassy there, South Korean media and foreign diplomatic sources said U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui.

Coming on the heels of a separate meeting Friday between Mr. Trump and former North Korean spy chief Kim Yong-chol in Washington, the Stockholm talks are the latest sign of serious diplomatic movement in the otherwise stalled U.S. and South Korean push to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons.

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