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North Korea expanding missile development facilities, says report

North Korea has been expanding its facilities for missile research and development but has shown no unusual signs at its demolished nuclear testing site or its long-suspended plutonium-producing reactor, the Yonhap News Agency reported on 17 February.

The media outlet cited a report from South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) as saying that no special movement has been spotted since May 24, 2018, when the North demolished the Punggyeri nuclear test site. The 5-megawatt nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex has long been suspended.

Yonhap provided no details on the extent to which Pyongyang has expanded its missile development facilities, but referred to several of the new ballistic missiles, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), unveiled by North Korea since 2019. In this context, it quoted the MND report as saying, By unveiling new ballistic missiles and new SLBMs, the North seeks to show off its defence capabilities and to raise the pride of the regime.

The report, which was used to brief the defence committee at South Korea’s National Assembly, also stated that North Korea has heightened its ground and maritime defence posture near border areas since late 2020 and carried out regular military trainings.

Yonhap also reported that the MND reiterated its push for the swift transfer of the wartime operational control of South Korean troops from the United States.

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