US think tank CSIS report cites another “undeclared” missile base ahead of 2nd NK-US summit

Posted on : 2019-01-23 16:35 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Base has been reported numerous times by South Korean press since 1990s
Sino Village missile operating base. (CSIS)
Sino Village missile operating base. (CSIS)

Another US think tank report and related news report on “undeclared” North Korean weapons facilities have emerged ahead of the second North Korea-US summit, this time focusing on a missile operating base at the village of Sino. The situation is similar to the controversy that erupted in late November when the New York Times cited the same think tank’s report in describing North Korea’s long-known missile base at Sakkanmol as a “secret ballistic missile base.”

The latest report – a 46-page analysis of a missile base and strategic army facility at Sino Village, Onjon County, North Pyongyan Province – was published on Jan. 21 on the CSIS website Beyond Parallel, which focuses on Korean Peninsula issues. The report described the facility, which is located 212km from the DMZ, as “hous[ing] a regiment-sized unit equipped with Nodong-1 medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM),” and speculated that it may have been used in the development of the Pukkuksong-2 missile test-launched by North Korea in Feb. 2017.

“The Sino-ri base has never been declared by North Korea. It also does not appear to be the subject of denuclearization negotiations between the United States and North Korea,” the report observed.

On the same, the NBC network aired its own piece citing the report.

“With a second US-North Korea nuclear summit looming in February, researchers have discovered a secret ballistic missile base in North Korea,” the report began.

“The Kim [Jong-un] regime has never disclosed the existence of the Sino-ri Missile Operating Base to the outside world. Ballistic missiles are the primary delivery mechanism for North Korean nuclear warheads,” it continued.

Despite the report’s claims, the base has been mentioned in numerous reports in the South Korean press since the late 1990s.

In early November of last year, CSIS drew attention to the Sakkanmol missile base, claiming that 13 “undeclared” North Korean missile bases had been confirmed. The report’s timing soon after high-level North Korea-US talks fell through and the New York Times’ characterization of the previously known Sakkanmol base as “secret” led many in and around the diplomatic community to question the motives behind the CSIS report and news story. Observers speculated that North Korea-US negotiation skeptics were attempting to drum up public opinion.

Victor Cha, CSIS’ Korea chair, stressed that the report was not meant to disrupt the North Korea-US talks.

“I fully support diplomacy, and we are not using this report to hurt diplomacy,” Cha told the Hankyoreh.

“This report merely enlarges upon a US government missile defense report that came out last week,” he said.

Cha went on to say, “While I support the North Korea-US summit, we need to have sincere negotiations that are about exchanging present capabilities amid efforts to reduce tensions.”

“President Donald Trump needs more and better prepared information in terms of what he is negotiating over,” he stressed.

By Kim Ji-eun, staff reporter, and Hwang Joon-bum, Washington correspondent

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