Study says North Korean base hosts nuclear-capable missiles that put Japan in crosshairs

Written by Jesse Johnson

A new study spotlighting an “undeclared” North Korean missile base that hosts medium-range weapons capable of striking half of Japan was released Friday amid growing concerns in Tokyo over U.S. President Donald Trump’s acceptance of shorter-range missile tests by Pyongyang.

Located 1,100 km west of Tokyo and 75 km north of the Demilitarized Zone, the Kumchon-ni base “houses a battalion- or regiment-sized unit equipped with Hwasong-9 (Scud-ER) medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM)” as well as shorter-range Hwasong-6 (Scud C) missiles, the study released Friday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank’s Beyond Parallel project said.

The base is reportedly tasked with strikes against the southern half of Japan during wartime, and, to a lesser degree, South Korea, said the study, which claimed to be “the first comprehensive public report detailing the development, organization and threat posed by the Kumchon-ni missile operating base.”

Scud-ER, or extended-range, missiles can travel roughly 1,000 km, and can deliver a 750-kg warhead — a nuclear-weapon-size payload — to all of South Korea and the southern half of Japan, including Shikoku and a large portion of Honshu, it said.

Such a range would put “many bases used by the U.S. military” within striking distance, according to the report.

It also said that the base could eventually play host to “more recently emerging MRBMs” such as the solid-fueled Pukguksong-2 missile, which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in May 2017 could be “rapidly mass-produced.”

Should such a deployment become a reality, “the threat envelope could include all of Japan, including U.S. military bases on Okinawa, and beyond,” the study said.

The report said that as of August, the Kumchon-ni base “is active and being well-maintained by North Korean standards,” adding that continued infrastructure changes at the facilities in recent years “attest to the ongoing importance” of the site to the North Korean leadership.

Read more at The Japan Times

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Jesse Johnson

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