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U.S. think tank highlights another 'undeclared' N.K. missile base

All Headlines 05:16 February 16, 2019

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. think tank on Friday highlighted another North Korean missile base, which it said has not been acknowledged by the regime.

The Sangnam-ni missile operating base, about 250 kilometers north of the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, is equipped with Hwasong-10 intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of over 3,000 kilometers, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said.

The CSIS has been publishing a series of reports since late last year on what it says are approximately 20 undeclared missile bases in North Korea.

The latest edition comes less than two weeks before U.S. President Donald Trump is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to discuss the dismantling of the regime's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.

Their second summit is scheduled for Feb. 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam. The first summit in Singapore in June produced a commitment from Kim to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but critics say it yielded few tangible results.

"The base does not appear to be the subject of denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea," the report says. "Some have argued that North Korea is under no obligation to declare these operational missiles bases. But ten standing United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including the most recent UNSCR 2397, explicitly ban North Korea from developing and testing ballistic missiles."

The unit housed by the base is an important component of North Korea's presumed offensive ballistic missile strategy and provides a "strategic-level first strike capability" against targets across East Asia, including major U.S. bases on Okinawa and possibly Guam, according to the report.

"Until more is known, however, this capability should be characterized as 'theoretical' as the Hwasong-10 was deployed to operational units without testing in an 'emergency launch capability' mode during the early 2000s," it says.

The think tank notes that any summit agreement that leads to the dismantling of only the rocket test stand at Dongchang-ri, which the North has already committed to, "would obscure the extant military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases."

hague@yna.co.kr
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