North Korea has about 20 missile operating bases that would not appear to be the subject of denuclearization negotiations with the U.S. at the second summit next week, a prominent U.S. think tank said in its latest report on North Korea's missile bases.
The report "Undeclared North Korea: The Sangnam-ni Missile Operating Base," released by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Feb. 15 (local time), reveals its new findings on the Sangnam-ni missile base located within North Korea's strategic missile belt in Hochon County, South Hamgyoung Province.
"As of 2018, the base is active and being well-maintained by North Korean standards," the report says. It presents the establishment and development process of the missile base 250 kilometers north of the demilitarized zone, since March 1999.
According to the report, Sangnam-ni is an operational missile base housing a battalion or regiment-sized unit equipped with Hwasong-10 (Musudan) intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM) with a range of more than 3,000 kilometers.
"The deployment of the Hwasong-10, with 3000+ kilometer ranges at Sangnam-ni is a component of North Korea's presumed offensive ballistic missile strategy that provides a strategic-level first strike capability against targets located throughout East Asia as far as U.S. forces in Okinawa and Guam," it says. "The base is defended by a single anti-aircraft artillery position and nearby surface-to-air missile bases."
The development and operations of the base is part of North Korea's plans to build a series of strategic ballistic missile operating bases in the northern sections of the country for longer-range systems under development, the report says.
Previously, the CSIS released two reports revealing findings on the Sakkanmol and Sino-ri missile operating bases last November and January, respectively, as parts of a series of reports on North Korea's "undeclared" missile bases.
The reports say there are about 20 bases.
The reports are based on the ongoing study of Korean People's Army ballistic missile infrastructure begun in 1985 by one of the authors Joseph Bermudez, a senior fellow for Imagery Analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Victor Cha, a senior adviser and the inaugural holder of the Korea Chair at CSIS, and Lisa Collins, a fellow with the Korea Chair at CSIS, co-authored the report.
Their first report on the Sakkanmol missile base earlier stirred controversies on whether North Korea has a duty to "declare" its missile bases. The latest report on this matter said 10 standing United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, including the most recent UNSCR 2397, "explicitly" ban North Korea from developing and testing ballistic missiles.
It also called for the need to include this subject in negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea, warning that only discussing the dismantlement of the Tongchang-ri missile test site ― first promised by the North in June last year ― would not help stop the military threat from North Korea.
"Any potential agreement that decommissioning the Tongchang-ri (Sohae) rocket test standalone would obscure the extant military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases in this CSIS study," it says.