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Report: North Korea Continues To Build On Missile Sites Despite Promises To Denuclearize

Reuters

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Vandana Rambaran Political Reporter

North Korea has erected two new buildings at a missile facility on the outskirts of the nation’s capital Pyongyang, even after leader Kim Jong Un promised U.S. President Donald Trump in June that he was committed “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Growing nuclear progression at the Missile Research and Development Facility, located in the Sanum-dong neighborhood in northern Pyongyang is evidenced by over 40 satellite images, which were taken by a San Francisco-based imagery provider Planet Labs Inc. and analyzed by experts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California.

The images show continued activity at the same facility that was built in 2012 and have produced multiple long-range missiles and space-launch vehicles with the capabilities of reaching the U.S., according to reports by The Washington Post.

The facility is working on producing at least one other missile that would have the range to reach the U.S.’s East Coast, according to images obtained by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in recent weeks.

“It’s active. We see shipping containers and vehicles coming and going,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies said to The Washington Post, referring to the nuclear site in Sanum-dong. “This is a facility where they build ICBMs and space-launch vehicles.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked during his Senate hearing earlier in July about the progress of U.S. disarmament talks with North Korea and he admitted that the peninsula “continue[s] to produce fissile material” that would be used to make nuclear weapons. However, he insisted that the U.S. had not been “taken for a ride” by Kim and that the two countries were sill working towards disarmament.

Still, North Korea has shown little effort to move towards those goals, with the exception of dismantling an engine test stand at Sohae Satellite Launching Station in June, which officials say can be reassembled within a matter of months, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal.

Other satellite images from late June show that North Korea has also been making improvements to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, and have continued to boost nuclear fuel production at several secret sites across the country. (RELATED: US Intelligence Suspects North Korea Is Producing Nuclear Fuel At Secret Sites Despite Talks Of Peace And Denuclearization)

“We have this backward. North Korea is not negotiating to give up their nuclear weapons,” Lewis said to The Washington Post. “They are negotiating for recognition of their nuclear weapons. They’re willing to put up with certain limits, like no nuclear testing and no ICBM testing. What they’re offering is: They keep the bomb, but they stop talking about it.”

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