Wednesday, 24 October, 2018

North Korea removes key facilities at missile launching station

Source N. Korea seeking 'bold move' from US Satellite images show North Korea has begun dismantling key test site
Scott Davis | 24 July, 2018, 21:09

Satellite images appear to show that North Korea has begun dismantling key features of a rocket launch site used to develop engines for ballistic missiles.

A satellite image released by 38 North on Monday showing the partial dismantling at the Sohae launch site in North Korea.

"Pompeo went to Pyongyang - he thought he was going to meet Kim Jong-un but he was just stonewalled for two days, subjected to "North Korea's gonna, North Korea's gonna".

New satellite images suggest North Korea has begun to deliver on its promise to dismantle a rocket engine testing site at the heart of its ballistic missile programme.

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

The US-based monitoring group 38 North analysed images of the Sohae Satellite Launch Station, concluding that two key features are being dismantled.

The July 22 photo shows visible progress made in the dismantlement.

However, Mr Trump today said he was "very happy" with the progress in relations with North Korea, saying Pyongyang had not launched any missiles or carried out any nuclear tests during the last nine months. "Likewise, no Nuclear Tests".

SOHAE SATELLITE LAUNCH PAD NORTH KOREA- JULY 20 2018 Figure 1. By July 20 dismantlement had begun of the rail-mounted transfer structure on the Sohae launch pad. Mandatory credit for all images DigitalGlobe/38 North via Getty Images

South Korea's official stance has been to support sanctions on the North until the country gives up its nuclear weapons, but from time to time officials have expressed a hope to seek exemptions, especially to work out the cross-border projects that South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed to with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their first summit on April 27. "Japan is happy, all of Asia is happy", Trump wrote earlier Monday.

The South Korean presidential official, who didn't want to be named, citing office rules, said the supposed dismantlement activities shows the North is moving gradually.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that he and President Trump remain "upbeat about the prospects of denuclearization of North Korea" and that "progress is happening".

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

North Korea is also pressing South Korea on its commitments to end the Korean War.

Melissa Hanham, senior research associate with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, said that while dismantling the engine test site was a "good move", it amounted to "the bare minimum" that could be done at Sohae.

As posturing continues, there needs to be sufficient room for USA diplomats, especially Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, to manoeuvre toward the outcomes the U.S. wants to achieve, Brooks said. North Korea's reticence to act on its commitments has alarmed U.S. diplomats, who warned at the weekend that the regime was working to hide parts of its nuclear programme.




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