North Korea says US-South Korea drills violate inter-Korean military treaty

Leroy Wright
November 13, 2018

While the administration has celebrated North Korea's self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing, the closure of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, the partial dismantling of the Sohae missile engine testing facility, and the return of American hostages, North Korea has yet to walk the path of disarmament desired by Washington. Many people also believe that they have no intention of stopping that development under any circumstances, but still hoping that global pressure will force the Trump administration to left sanctions.

President Trump himself kept up the pretense last week by saying: "We're in no rush".

Although the sites are not launch facilities and in some cases are rudimentary, the authors of the report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies say they are hidden and illustrate the scope of the North's weapons program and the country's determination to hide its military might.

The North said it was willing to deal away its growing nuclear weapons arsenal during talks with the U.S. and the South earlier this year.

The report, however, noted that the missile operating bases "are not launch facilities" themselves.

The North Korean officials submitted their applications for a trip to the South to the ministry on November 6.

Indeed, it appears to be adding to its stockpile: USA intelligence reports from the northern summer found that North Korea had begun producing new missiles at a factory, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged during Senate testimony that Pyongyang "continues to produce fissile material".

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The North Korean military is reported to have asked that one guard post, which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had visited, be preserved.

The sites identified in the CSIS report are scattered in remote, mountainous areas across North Korea, and could be used to house ballistic missiles of various ranges, with the largest believed to be capable of striking anywhere in the United States.

"I realise I am a broken record, but North Korea has never offered to abandon its nuclear weapons", said Lewis.

Trump also reassured critics that talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were still occurring.

North Korea has been playing hardball recently and that may indicate that the decision to resume testing is not far off.

The Ministry of National Defense said, while it could not confirm which side had floated the idea first, the two Koreas had "shared the need" to preserve the two guard posts in a series of cross-border military talks following the inter-Korean summit in September.

Perhaps more pressing for Washington and Tokyo than a return to this stance, however, have been recent media reports citing anonymous US intelligence officials as saying that work on the North's nuclear program continues unabated, despite its pledge to take steps in the opposite direction.

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