The Supreme Leader is racing to construct a giant storage and assembly area for his lethal nuclear ballistic missiles, according to South Korea news website Daily NK. The news will come as a major blow to US president Donald Trump, who has met the North Korean three times in the past year to try and persuade him to give up his atomic plans. The new base is being constructed on the site of an abandoned underground storage area, that was built in the 1980s to shelter and protect fighter planes.
It is located close to Pyongyang’s main airport and its underground storage areas and buildings are big enough to house the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The site is defended by surface-to-air missiles and there are some 17 air defence bases and barracks within three miles.
A US think tank estimates that the site will be completed either late this year or early next year.
The Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies said: “While the precise function of the facility is unclear, its configuration and the size of its buildings and UGF [underground facility] indicate that it can be used for the assembly of ballistic missiles from components delivered by rail from nearby factories.”
The report’s author, Joseph Bermudez, claimed that the site, named the “Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility” could house all known and anticipated North Korean ballistic missiles, along with their launchers.
The blunt-nosed Hwasong-15 was first test fired on November 29 2017 from the Sain-ni area and proved to be a milestone, as it marked the longest ever flight of an North Korean ICBM.
Its estimated 13,000 km range means the missile could be used to strike anywhere in the United States and Europe, leaving only Antarctica and South America out of range.
If North Korea is able to miniaturize its nuclear weapon capability and pair a nuclear warhead to the Hwasong-15 ICBM, Pyongyang would be able to hold the entire US population at risk.
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Last year, as frustrations increased over the talks, North Korea threatened to send an unspecified “Christmas gift” to the United States.
North Korean officials accused the US side on bad faith and using the talks for domestic political gain.
Ri Thae Song, a first vice minister at the North Korean Foreign Ministry working on US affairs said: “The dialogue touted by the US is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US.
“It is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get.”
Meanwhile, the mystery surrounding Kim Jong-un’s disappearance from public deepened on Sunday, after a South Korean official claimed that the North Korean leader did not undergo any medical procedure or surgery.
Intense speculation over Kim’s health was triggered when he missed the annual celebration of his grandfather’s birthday on April 15.