The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump says ‘nothing new’ in report on hidden missile bases in North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left and President Trump.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left and President Trump. (Korea Summit Press Pool; Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
Placeholder while article actions load

President Trump lashed out Tuesday at a new report that identified more than a dozen hidden bases in North Korea that could be used to disperse mobile launchers for ballistic missiles, even as the president continues to claim a greatly diminished nuclear threat.

“We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new — and nothing happening out of the normal,” the president said in a tweet. “. . . I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”

The release of the report Monday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies was covered by multiple news organizations, including the New York Times, whose news story Trump branded “more Fake News” without disputing its content.

After a much-touted summit in June with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump said on Twitter that there was “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” In public, he has largely kept this rosy view of negotiations.

“We’re in no rush,” he told reporters last week, when asked about the prospect of a second summit with Kim, adding that “the missiles have stopped, the rockets have stopped.”

The CSIS report is the latest evidence that while North Korea has indeed stopped its missile testing, it is far from dismantling its weapons facilities. Indeed, it appears to be adding to its stockpile.

In the report, CSIS used satellite imagery and interviews with North Korean defectors and government officials to identify 13 missile bases. They say there are seven more bases that remain hidden.

The bases, which are in “mountainous terrain, often spread out within narrow dead-end valleys,” the New York Times reported , could be used to deploy mobile missile launchers, which would be extremely difficult for other nations to track and stop before the missiles could be fired.

The CSIS team was led by Victor Cha, a North Korea expert whom the Trump administration considered nominating as ambassador to South Korea last year. His name was not put forward, however, after Cha privately expressed disagreement in late December with the Trump administration’s North Korea policy.