North Korea Seen Expanding Missile Base Satellite images reveal tunneling and other construction activity at two sites near the Chinese border that are believed to house long-range missiles that could in theory reach the United States.
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North Korea Seen Expanding Missile Base

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North Korea Seen Expanding Missile Base

North Korea Seen Expanding Missile Base

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

News today that North Korea has been expanding one of its missile bases. That's according to a new analysis of satellite imagery. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel has more.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: The U.S. knew about this base. It's in a remote mountain valley in the very northern part of the country right near the Chinese border.

JEFFREY LEWIS: So it's very hard to get to.

BRUMFIEL: Jeffrey Lewis with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies speaking on Skype. He was part of the team that looked at commercial satellite images. And when he and others looked carefully, they noticed something else about seven miles away.

LEWIS: It was extremely well-camouflaged, and we had not noticed it before.

BRUMFIEL: A new base or maybe an extension. And at this new facility, the North Koreans are digging big time, creating a giant underground cavern in the side of a mountain.

LEWIS: You can just see from the amount of dirt and rock that they've pulled out from the tunnel how large it is. It's one of the larger North Korean underground facilities I've ever seen.

BRUMFIEL: This new underground facility probably has just one purpose, Lewis says, to house North Korea's largest missiles, like the intercontinental ballistic missiles it claims can strike the U.S. The digging has been taking place all year, even after President Trump's June summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump has touted the summit as a success. Here he is talking about it at a rally back in October.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No more rockets, right? I say all the time, no more rockets, no more missiles, no more nuclear testing.

BRUMFIEL: So is the North going back on its word? No, says Eric Brewer. He worked in the Trump White House coordinating sanctions against the North. And he says Kim Jong Un promised not to test but said nothing about missile bases.

ERIC BREWER: There's no deception here. He's not breaking any of his commitments that he has made.

BRUMFIEL: Trump now wants another summit. Brewer says there's been no lower-level talks to discuss things like the bases. He worries the summit will go badly without the preparation.

BREWER: I think we put ourselves in a dangerous position when we put President Trump and Kim Jong Un in the room together to try and agree to some of these details.

BRUMFIEL: So far, the North has declined to meet at a lower level. Trump says he hopes the next summit can happen early next year. Geoff Brumfiel, NPR News, Washington.

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