Professional-North Korea teams welcome Kim Jong Un's go to to Seoul

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis shakes hands with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo

North Korea is operating at least 13 undeclared bases to hide mobile, nuclear-capable missiles, a new study asserted Monday, as progress stalls on US President Donald Trump's signature foreign policy initiative.

Even as North Korea is engaging in talks with the United States, this development shows that Pyongyang will maintain military readiness and continue the upkeep and renovation of its existing facilities given that no firm agreements have been made.

The existence of the bases - which presumably would have to be declared and then dismantled under the U.S. goal of North Korean "denuclearisation" - suggests that North Korea's previous efforts to dismantle known missile launch sites or nuclear facilities had little impact on its nuclear programme.

The present comes after the North Koreans gave South Korean President Moon Jae-in two tonnes of pricey pine mushrooms after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang in September.

"We can not have another summit with North Korea - not with President Trump, not with the Secretary of State - unless and until the Kim regime takes concrete, tangible actions to halt and roll back its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs".

The CIA declined to comment on the images, but USA officials have expressed concern about North Korea using hidden and undeclared locations to continue to work on improving their missile technology and possibly their nuclear program.

"It's not like these bases have been frozen", Victor Cha, who leads CSIS's North Korea program, told The New York Times, which first reported on the study.

North Korea analysts not involved in the report said the findings were not surprising given Pyongyang's past activities but were still cause for concern. At a summit in Pyongyang in September, the two Korean agreed to disarm the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom, disarm 11 DMZ guard posts on a trial basis and conduct a joint excavation of soldiers killed during the war.

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There is also evidence of improvements and maintenance at other known North Korean missile sites.

The base, located in mountainous terrain, contains a unit equipped with short-range ballistic missiles, the report said, and could house medium-range ones.

The analysts looked specifically at the Sakkanmol Missile Operating Base, located only 135km from Seoul.

"Missile operating bases are not launch facilities", Bermudez wrote. "While missiles could be launched from within them in an emergency, Korean People's Army operational procedures call for missile launchers to disperse from the bases to pre-surveyed or semi-prepared launch sites for operations".

About 500 United States and South Korean marines began military drills last week that were among joint exercises indefinitely suspended in June as Seoul and Washington focused on engaging with North Korea.

But on Thursday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said North Korea postponed the meeting "because they weren't ready".

South and North Korea had separately planned to conduct a joint survey of cross-border railway lines in the western region in late October, but it has yet to begin as consultations with the US have not been completed.

President Trump is still expected to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and top Korean officials in January.

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