Fri, Aug 24, 2018 - Page 5 News List

N Korea dismantling questioned

DENUCLEARIZATION DOUBT:A report by 38 North said progress had been made to tear down a missile engine test site, but components were still stacked on site


North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station is pictured in a satellite photograph taken on Thursday last week and released on Wednesday.

Photo: Reuters / Pleiades / CNES 2018, Distribution Airbus DS

Satellite photographs taken last week indicate that North Korea halted work to dismantle a missile engine test site this month, despite a promise to US President Donald Trump at a June summit, a Washington think tank reported on Wednesday.

The 38 North project said commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station taken on Thursday last week indicated there had been “no significant dismantlement activity” at either the site’s engine test stand or launch pad since Aug. 3.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month said reports that North Korea had started dismantling facilities at Sohae were consistent with a commitment North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made at a summit with Trump in Singapore on June 12.

The 38 North report said significant progress in tearing down the test stand had been made from July to early this month, but added: “The components previously removed remain stacked on the ground.”

It said work to take down a rail-mounted transfer and processing building at the launch pad also appeared to have stalled and it was not clear whether the work that had taken place on that was associated with dismantling or modification of the structure.

There was no immediate comment from the White House.

In Singapore, Kim agreed in broad terms to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but he has given no sign he is willing to give up his arsenal unilaterally.

In an interview on Monday, Trump said his efforts to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons were worthwhile.

He said he would “most likely” meet again with Kim.

However, several members of the US negotiating team said they had seen no progress toward denuclearization and no sign that North Korea was prepared to negotiate seriously until the US promised relief from sanctions in return.

North Korea state media last week said that the lack of progress in talks since the summit was because of members of the US negotiating team and that breaking the deadlock would demand “a bold decision on the part of President Trump.”

A commentary in its Rodong Sinmun on Saturday last week said those opposed to dialogue were seeking to derail talks by making baseless references to “secret nuclear facilities” in North Korea.

US officials have been trying to persuade North Korea to declare the extent of its weapons programs, something Pyongyang had always refused to do in past talks.

Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said this month that Pyongyang had not taken the necessary steps to denuclearize, while US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Washington was “not willing to wait for too long.”

Bolton said Trump, in a letter to Kim, had proposed sending Pompeo back to North Korea for what would be his fourth visit this year, and that the president was ready to meet with Kim again at any time.

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