US Intelligence Suspects North Korea Is Producing Nuclear Fuel At Secret Sites Despite Talks Of Peace And Denuclearization

Ryan Pickrell | China/Asia Pacific Reporter

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s commitments to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula are again in question after a report revealed U.S. intelligence suspects North Korea is boosting nuclear fuel production at secret sites.

North Korea has apparently increased the production of fuel for the making of nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months, despite repeated assurances to the U.S., South Korea and China that the rogue regime is committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, NBC reported Friday evening, citing more than a dozen U.S. officials. The report was confirmed by other outlets as well.

North Korea has put a moratorium on weapons testing, but “there’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” an official explained to NBC, adding, “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S.”

The most prominent enrichment facility is at Yongbyon, but many Korea watchers have long suspected there were other facilities.

After the historic Singapore summit, where President Donald Trump met Kim for the first time, Trump proudly tweeted that North Korea was “no longer a nuclear threat.” The tweet has not aged well. (RELATED: Trump Declares End To North Korean ‘Nuclear Threat’)

“This assessment says there is more than one secret site. That means there are at least three, if not more sites,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told Reuters, adding that the NBC report also reveals the North Koreans did not openly disclose all of their nuclear fuel facilities. “Together, these two things would imply that North Korea intended to disclose some sites as part of the denuclearization process, while retaining others.”

Satellite images from June 21 reveal North Korea has also been making improvements to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, North Korea watchdog 38 North revealed Tuesday. (RELATED: North Korea Improving A Key Nuclear Research Facility At ‘Rapid Pace’) This, too, has led observers to question Kim’s commitments.

The U.S. has negotiated a number of agreements with North Korea over the past several decades, and all of them have failed, typically because the North violated the agreement.

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