On Friday, the White House announced that there would be a second summit between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, to be held before the end of February. Bloomberg reports that the summit will be held in Vietnam:
U.S. officials are planning for President Donald Trump to hold his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next month in Vietnam, people familiar with the plans said, suggesting negotiations for the meeting were gathering pace.
The late-February summit would probably take place in the capital Hanoi, but Danang — the site of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting — and Ho Chi Minh City in the country’s south have also been considered, the people said. The details came to light as nuclear envoys for the U.S., North Korea and South Korea held talks at a resort outside Stockholm, the Associated Press reported, citing the Swedish foreign ministry.
The presumptive Vietnam summit follows last June's historic Singapore summit between Trump and Kim, which was the first-ever historic meeting between an American president and a hermit kingdom dictator.
On Monday, however, things took a turn for the worse. On the first business day following the White House's Friday announcement, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a defense think tank, released a report claiming that there may be as many as 20 previously undisclosed North Korea missile sites. The CSIS researchers concretely identified Sino-ri Missile Operating Base, which had previously never been disclosed by the Kim regime:
Situated about 130 miles north of the DMZ, Sino-ri Missile Operating Base houses the headquarters for the Korean People’s Army Strategic Rocket Forces missile brigade, a unit responsible for ballistic missiles. The base has been central to developing ballistic missiles that are capable of reaching South Korea, Japan, and even Guam, according to the report.
Beyond Parallel researchers estimate North Korea has 20 undisclosed sites where it continues to develop its ballistic missile program. Sino-ri is one of the oldest of those sites but is still operational today. Satellite photos dated Dec. 27, 2018, show an entrance to an underground bunker, hardened shelters, and a headquarters area, according to Beyond Parallel. The underground bunkers have rock and dirt berms in front that appear to protect them from artillery fire and airstrikes. The base is just under 7 square miles in size.
The report comes one day after Trump tweeted his frustration at his perceived lack of media accolades surrounding his North Korea diplomacy.
The Trump administration has frequently promoted its North Korea diplomatic efforts as a cornerstone of its broader Asia-Pacific global strategy — and, specifically, as something that distinguishes the Trump administration from its predecessor. North Korea is considered to have on-hand potentially dozens of strategic nuclear weapons. The threat of a nuclear North Korea serves as a major geopolitical hindrance to the United States' forward-looking strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. U.S. allies such as Japan and South Korea rely upon the United States' protective umbrella in order to protect their security without they themselves building their own nuclear arsenals.