North Korea starts ‘dismantling’ rocket launch site satellite images reveal

Glen Norman
July 25, 2018

North Korea has started dismantling rocket launching and testing facilities that it agreed to in an off-the-books deal with President Donald Trump, and it's a major U.S. victory in what have been fraught and slow-moving talks.

Just last week, President Trump said he was "very happy" with how talks were progressing with North Korea.

The U.S. research group says North Korea has started dismantling key facilities at its main satellite launch site in what appears to be a step toward fulfilling a commitment made by leader Kim Jong Un at his summit with President Donald Trump in June.

But both satellite launch vehicles and missiles use rocket engines to propel themselves into space, meaning that working on one is much the same as working on the other.

Trump did not identify the site, but a USA official subsequently told Reuters that it was Sohae.

U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island, June 12, 2018 in Singapore.

Adam Mount, a senior defence analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, said it's also troubling that the North has been apparently allowed to duck verification by unilaterally dismantling parts of its nuclear and missile facilities without the presence of global inspectors.

Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North's intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence building measure on the part of North Korea.

"If they've already conducted all the tests they need to, then it really doesn't cost them very much", he said.

Dr Narang says the Sohae test site could be destroyed, and North Korea could continue to improve their missile force and produce nuclear weapons. That's the steps that Chairman Kim committed to, and that the world has demanded through UN Security Council resolutions.

On Tuesday, Trump told the Veterans of Foreign Wars group that he was hopeful the question of repatriating the remains of United States troops killed during the Korean War would be addressed shortly. The president didn't identify the exact site, sparking speculations that North Korea may not be transparent about its activities.

Kim sent Trump a nice letter in mid-July, but it contained no specifics on the US's declared goal: Denuclearization.

"He said, 'It will be done'". "And we appreciate that", Mr. Trump said at an annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.

Since the Singapore summit, satellite imagery has picked up signs that North Korea may actually have advanced its nuclear and missile programs.

EastWest Institute COO Bill Parker on the state of the Trump administration's nuclear talks with North Korea.

A South Korean delegation that traveled to NY over the past weekend said Seoul needed to be exempted from some worldwide sanctions against the North to implement the Panmunjom Declaration.

Seoul's defence ministry said Tuesday it was considering withdrawing some troops from the border Demilitarised Zone on a trial basis - a move which could expand into a gradual pullout later.

That report said continued negotiations hinged on Washington's willingness to make a "bold move" and set the two nations on the path to reaching a deal on a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

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