Satellite images seem to show that North Korea has begun rebuilding a portion of a facility previously used to test long-range missile engines, according to analysts on Tuesday. This raises questions about the future of US-North Korea negotiations.
Both the Center for Strategic Studies’ Beyond Parallel project and 38 North, which are respected North Korea monitoring websites, said it had observed activity at the Tongchang-ri satellite launch facility. This facility has been dormant since about August of last year.
Tongchang-ri is one of the few known missile component development facilities inside North Korea.
38 North found that efforts to rebuild the site’s launch pad and missile engine test stand began sometime between February 16 and March 2. This means work began either in the days before, during, or immediately after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump abruptly ended their second summit in Hanoi on February 28.
The CIA declined to comment on the photographs.
South Korean lawmaker Lee Hye-hoon told CNN Wednesday that the country’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) revealed in a briefing that there has been restoration activity at Tongchang-ri.
Speaking Wednesday, Trump said it was “too early to see” whether Kim had restarted the country’s missile testing program but added that he would be “very disappointed” if that turned out to be the case.
When asked whether Kim broke his promise, Trump told reporters: “We’re gonna see. It’s too early to see. But we have to solve a problem. We have a really nasty problem. We have to solve a problem.”
“If North Korea does something they want us to know, they would say it. They haven’t said anything,” said Joseph Yun, the State Department’s former special representative for North Korea policy.
“We don’t know enough to say one way or the other. My own guess is it’s too early to think that this is a response to happen in Hanoi,” Yun said.