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N Korea at crossroads

Undeclared North Korean base has missile capable of striking Japan

Study suggests weapon upgrades could threaten US bases in Okinawa

CSIS said North Korea is keeping an undeclared base "well-maintained," underscoring its importance to Kim Jong Un's leadership.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- An undeclared North Korean ballistic missile base in the country's southwest hosts medium-range missiles capable of striking half of Japan and anywhere in South Korea, a U.S. think tank said Friday.

The base in Kumchon-ni is located 75 kilometers north of the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas, 165 km northeast of Seoul and 1,100 km west-northwest of Tokyo, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said.

Should the missile operating base, currently believed to host Hwasong-9 missiles, be equipped with newer weapons such as solid-fueled KN-15, "the threat envelope could include all of Japan, including U.S. military bases on Okinawa, and beyond," it said.

Satellite imagery taken in July showed a series of related facilities and housing for personnel working there and at a nearby radar base, CSIS said.

"As of August 2019, the base is active and being well-maintained by North Korean standards," it said, adding continued infrastructure changes at the facilities in recent years "attest to the ongoing importance" of the base to North Korean leadership.

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