South Korea-US military drills violate agreements: North Korean media

South Korea-US military drills violate agreements: North Korean media

The State Department responded to the study with a statement that failed to directly address the secret bases, saying "President Trump has made clear that should Chairman Kim follow through on his commitments, including complete denuclearization and the elimination of ballistic missile programs, a much brighter future lies ahead for North Korea and its people".

The 13 sites are among an estimated 20 bases, which are small and dispersed across the country, that are believed to have underground facilities containing mobile launchers that can be quickly dispersed to other locations, according to the report from Beyond Parallel, a group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The existence of the bases - which presumably would have to be declared and then dismantled under the USA goal of North Korean "denuclearisation" - suggests that North Korea's previous efforts to dismantle known missile launch sites or nuclear facilities had little impact on its nuclear programme.

North Korea called off a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in NY last week.

He also pointed out that the North has just declared a halt to its nuclear and missile tests, not the suspension of the operation of those existing facilities and a development program itself.

While US sanctions on North Korea remain in place, enforcement by traditional trading partners China and Russian Federation has relaxed since the summit, US officials have acknowledged.

North Korea has made a show out of de-commissioning both the Sohae satellite launch facility and the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site. however, reports by two separate groups of Chinese scientists from April suggest that the Punggye-ri site may have been decommissioned after it caused a nearby mountain to collapse.

Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul, said South Korean and USA intelligence officials had been "closely watching" the sites using military satellites and that the CSIS report contained "nothing new".

The administration has said repeatedly sanctions will not be lifted until a denuclearisation agreement is fully implemented.

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North Korea are still operating undeclared missile bases and even improving some of their missile sites instead of shutting them down.

CSIS said that while these were operating bases and not launch sites, they could be used as launch sites if necessary. "I have talked with the administration and basically what we're looking at is they postponed it because they weren't ready".

The United States and South Korea have said the drills are defensive in nature.

After the summit, Kim Jong-un vowed to "work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" and the United States subsequently cancelled planned military drills with South Korea.

Trump played down the delay in Pompeo's meeting with Kim Yong Chol, a right-hand man of North Korea's leader, and said it was a scheduling issue.

Trump has said he hopes to meet again soon with Kim, but there are signs of growing friction in the negotiations with North Korean officials, which appear to have stalled.

"But I will say this, I will say this very simply - We are in no rush, the sanctions are on", he said.

Many North Korea watchers doubt that the regime will ever truly give up nuclear weapons, to which three generations of the Kim dynasty have generously devoted the country's scarce resources. Pompeo and other US officials have said that clearly includes dismantling its entire nuclear weapons program, but North Korea has not confirmed that.

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