North Korea Appears to Take Apart Missile Launch Area

North Korea,nuclear weapon,test launch

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile on September 16

Washington-based think tank 38 North said on Monday that satellite images of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station from last week indicated North Korea had begun dismantling a building used to assemble space-launch vehicles and a nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles.

"These facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North's intercontinental ballistic missile program", Joseph Bermudez wrote.

Duyeon Kim, a North Korean expert at the Centre for a New American Security, said: "Trump has been hit with a strong dose of reality of North Korea's negotiating style, which is always hard for Americans to understand".

The pictures provide evidence that the North Korean regime is committed to the denuclearization pact that its leader, Kim Jong Un, made last month during his meeting with President Donald Trump.

On Twitter, 38 North's founder, Joel Wit, said the images suggested that North Korea may be willing to "give up its space launch programme".

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As he did Monday, Trump has publicly professed satisfaction at the pace of negotiations with North Korea, saying last week there was "no rush" in completing talks with Pyongyang because USA and United Nations economic sanctions against North Korea remain in place.

Washington hoped North Korea would return about 50 sets of remains within two weeks but details were still uncertain, a senior US defence official said last week.

"They can blow the engine test site that they don't need anymore, while at the same time mass producing the missiles that they once tested there, and enriching the uranium at Yongbyon, and the covert facility". Japan is happy, all of Asia is happy.

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

North Korea's increasingly successful diplomacy with the USA and other nations is likely encouraging such measures.

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Speculation has been growing that a declaration ending the Korean War could be made in September when the U.N. General Assembly takes place. Wit, a former State Department negotiator with North Korea and a consistent advocate for dialogue with Pyongyang, said such a move would be just one step in the right direction, "but an important one". In recent years, the North Koreans built underground rail tunnels and other buildings that covers the movement of equipment around the launch pad.

In May, North Korean officials invited global reporters to watch the destruction of tunnels at its nuclear testing area.

Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, said Monday that the dismantling is "a good move" but called it "the bare minimum that can be done at the site".

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.

Trump rejected "Fake News" that he was angry because progress was not happening fast enough with North Korea.

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