North Korea close to finishing facility for firing nukes that can reach US

North Korea appears close to finishing a giant new facility capable of firing its most powerful nuclear weapons — including some capable of reaching anywhere in the US, experts have warned.

Construction of the Sil-li Ballistic Missile Support Facility could be completed later this year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said this week, basing its findings on clear satellite images.

The facility near the capital city of Pyongyang appears to be ready to assemble, store and then fire “the entirety of North Korea’s known ballistic missile variants,” CSIS said in a detailed analysis of the images.

That includes the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) — the first with a proven range that could allow it to strike the US East Coast.

“Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, D.C., and in fact any part of the continental United States,” physicist David Wright previously warned in a blog for the Union for Concerned Scientists.

The facility has been under construction since 2016, and includes an unusually large covered rail terminal and buildings that are linked by drive-through access, according to the CSIS report, published on Tuesday. The facility is also relatively close to ballistic missile component manufacturing plants in the Pyongyang area.

“Taken as a whole, these characteristics suggest that this facility is likely designed to support ballistic missile operations,” the report insisted.

The North Korean embassy in Beijing could not immediately be reached for comment. When asked about the report at a regular briefing in Seoul on Wednesday, a spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it would be inappropriate to comment.

Negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been at a standstill after working-level meetings with the United States collapsed last year.

US officials say in the absence of a denuclearization deal, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has continued to expand the nation’s arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

In recent months, North Korea has also warned it could rethink its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons tests and ICBM launches.

With Post wires

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