Images Show North Korea Dismantling Key Facilities at Satellite Launching Station

Randal Sanchez
July 24, 2018

North Korea has begun to dismantle key facilities at its Sohae Satellite Launching Station, its first tangible step toward denuclearization since leader Kim Jong-un made that pledge at his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, June 12.

Asked whether the cost of future joint field activities would be similar to what was paid in the past, the Pentagon's DPAA Public Affairs Office said: "As of yet, there are no JFAs scheduled in North Korea so we can not speculate on what such activities may cost".

Soon after the June summit, Trump announced North Korea had returned the remains of 200 soldiers that had already been found.

North Korea has begun dismantling a key facility used for missile testing, an analysis of new satellite imagery reveals.

As the facilities are believed to be important parts of the regime's ICBM program, 38 North says such efforts are a significant step by North Korea.

But their agreement contained no details about when or how North Korea would abandon its nuclear weapons program or shut down its existing nuclear facilities.

The July 20 images showed work at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station to dismantle 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, the 38 North think tank said. He said that with eventual denuclearization, there would be "big benefits and exciting future for North Korea at end of process!"

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

"A Rocket has not been launched by North Korea in 9 months".

Earlier this month, satellite images posted online by researchers show North Korea continuing to expand a ballistic missile manufacturing site while also upgrading a separate nuclear facility. But the Fake News is saying, without ever asking me (always anonymous sources), that I am angry because it is not going fast enough.

After the summit, Trump had declared the North Korean nuclear threat was effectively over, and U.S. media reports suggest he is privately furious at the lack of any subsequent progress on the denuclearisation issue.

Besides being politically sensitive, however, handing the North Korean government stacks of cash offers no guarantee that authenticated USA servicemen's remains would be recovered, Jannuzi said.

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.

"We all want diplomacy to succeed, so I am interested to hear more from Secretary Pompeo this Wednesday on his views on this development - and if he considers this to be significant", the New Jersey Democrat said in reference to the images published Monday.

Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime's engagements with China and South Korea flourish.

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