Written by Reuters
08 Mar, 2019 | 4:34 pm
Colombo (News 1st): Satellite imaging from North Korea’s nuclear facilities was released Thursday (March 7) by the Washington D.C. based Stimson Center and appears to show an operational launching station.
Nevertheless, U.S. President Donald Trump is open to additional talks with Pyongyang over denuclearization, his national security adviser said on Thursday, despite the reports that North Korea is reactivating parts of its missile program.
New activity has been detected at a factory that produced North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo and Donga Ilbo newspapers reported, citing lawmakers briefed by the National Intelligence Service.
This week, two U.S. think tanks and Seoul’s spy agency said North Korea was rebuilding a rocket launch site, prompting Trump to say he would be “very, very disappointed in Chairman Kim” if it were true.
Yet U.S. think tanks reported on Thursday that North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station appeared to be operational again after work that began days before Trump met with Kim in Hanoi.
Washington based 38 North think tank also said the Sohae site appeared now to have returned to normal operational status.
The reports of North Korean activity raise more questions about the future of the dialogue Trump has pursued with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after a second summit between the two leaders in Vietnam broke down last week.
White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Thursday that Trump was still open to additional talks with North Korea over denuclearization.
Bolton, a hardliner who argued for a tough approach to North Korea in the past, said it was too soon to make a determination on the reports of the North Korean activities.
The February 27-28 Vietnam summit collapsed over differences on how far North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear program and the degree of U.S. willingness to ease economic sanctions.
Trump, eager for a big foreign policy win on North Korea that has eluded his predecessors for decades, has repeatedly stressed his good relationship with Kim. He went as far late last year as saying they “fell in love,” but the bonhomie has failed so far to bridge the wide gap between the two sides.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful he would send a delegation to North Korea for more talks in the next couple of weeks, but that he had received “no commitment yet.”
South Korean spy chief Suh Hoon told lawmakers in Seoul this week that movement of cargo vehicles was spotted recently around a North Korean ICBM factory at Sanumdong and he viewed it as missile-related, the JoongAng Ilbo reported.
The paper also quoted Suh as saying North Korea had continued to run its uranium enrichment facility at the main Yongbyon nuclear complex after a first summit between Trump and Kim last June in Singapore.
The Sanumdong factory produced the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which can fly more than 13,000 km (8,080 miles). After a test flight in 2017, North Korea declared the completion of its “state nuclear force,” before pursuing talks with South Korea and the United States last year.
South Korea’s presidential office and defence ministry declined to confirm Sanumdong reports and the U.S. State Department said it could not comment on intelligence matters.
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