According to one South Korean newspaper report, North Korea has finished building a number of subterranean missile silos at a location not far from China.
The JoongAng Daily cited multiple anonymous South Korean government officials as its sources for the report of new missile-launch facilities positioned roughly 2,190 yards south of Mount Paektu.
"Since there are many places where the silos have been constructed, it is unclear whether all of them are launch-capable facilities or whether some are emergency facilities in case of attack," an official told the newspaper. "Based on the size and location of the facilities, it appears that these silos are for launching mid-sized or larger missiles."
The reported location of the silos could give North Korea a hardened location from which to mount intermediate-range ballistic missile strikes on U.S. military forces deployed in Okinawa and as far away as Guam.
"It appears that North Korea is creating a scenario through which they can attack the South with its short-range missiles ... and attack Guam or Okinawa with its mid-range missiles," an anonymous South Korean government analyst was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Pyongyang already has two known missile-launch facilities at Musudan-ri and Dongchang-ri, however, those sites are not underground and thus are more vulnerable to attack by the United States and South Korea. In addition, the possible location of the new silos near the Chinese border would make launching a strike on them more politically sensitive.
"If the missile facility is located near Chinese borders, a missile can accidentally fall into China and approaching via fighter jet will not be easy, so attacks will be difficult," a separate unidentified source said.
Meanwhile, the United States, South Korea and Japan on Thursday carried out trilateral maritime maneuvers that had been delayed for a few days due to bad weather, the Yonhap News Agency reported. North Korea, as it typically does, vehemently protested the two-day drill and warned it could touch off an escalatory response.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.