Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Fake News?

Follow the bouncing ball, starting with that NYT article two days ago:

The secret ballistic missile bases were identified in a detailed study  published Monday by the Beyond Parallel program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a major think tank in Washington.
Jump back to last June:

The six-month report by independent experts monitoring the implementation of U.N. sanctions was submitted to the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee late on Friday.

“(North Korea) has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the experts wrote in the 149-page report.

A Washington-based think tank on Monday said it has identified 13 of the estimated 20 undeclared missile operating bases in North Korea, while noting the somewhat-limited capabilities of the sites.

"Missile operating bases are not launch facilities,” Joseph Bermudez wrote in a report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “While missiles could be launched from within them in an emergency, Korean People’s Army (KPA) operational procedures call for missile launchers to disperse from the bases to pre-surveyed or semi-prepared launch sites for operations.”

“North Korea’s decommissioning of the Sohae satellite launch facility, while gaining much media attention, obscures the military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases,” Bermudez wrote, adding that the sites appear to be "active and being reasonably well-maintained."

U.S. analysts said Monday they have located 13 secret North Korean missile development sites, underscoring the challenge that the Trump administration faces in trying to reach its promised broad arms control agreement with Pyongyang.

The administration has said it is hopeful about eventually reaching an agreement with North Korea. President Donald Trump declared after his historic summit in June that with President Kim Jong Un there was "no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea." But a report based on satellite imagery shows the complexity posed by an extensive network of weapons facilities that the U.S. wants to neutralize.
The New York Times (yesterday):

And Mr. Trump? He appears still happily convinced that love had conquered all. “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new — and nothing happening out of the normal,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”

How bad they have to go before Mr. Trump abandons his delusions of an epochal achievement is anybody’s guess. But once he does, it is easy to imagine him unleashing even more of the apocalyptic language that raised tensions in 2017. The difference is that this time he will probably not have the support of China, Russia or South Korea, which took the June summit meeting as a signal to improve relations with North Korea and are not likely to turn back.
I suppose it's comforting that the U.S. knows about these bases.  That the President seems to think everything is fine, is far less comforting. 

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