North Korea Reportedly Rebuilding Structures at Rocket Launch Area

North Korea-worst harvest

US President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday he would be very disappointed in North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un if reports that he is rebuilding the Sohae long-range rocket launch site in the city of Tongchang-ri turn out to be true.

"It's a very early report, we're the ones that put it out", Trump claimed, which does not appear to be correct, according to NBC News. Both the launch pad and engine test stand were in about the same condition since last August, according to the 38 North report.

"Aside from the fact that (North Korea) has never tested an ICBM from Sohae - it's a space vehicle launch site - preparation for any launch would require a wide range of activities not observed in the imagery", Wit said.

The South Korean report was backed up by analysis from two American organizations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and 38 North.

In November of previous year, Amano said his agency had seen activities consistent with the fabrication of reactor components and the possible transfer of these components into the reactor building.

Also, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that South Korea's National Intelligence Service told lawmakers on Tuesday about the rebuilding.

Lewis thought a satellite launch from Sohae could be the ideal provocation since North Korea's allies in Russian Federation and China would probably declare it legal, the United States would be more likely to object, and South Korea would have to choose between indulging Pyongyang and risking its own diplomatic progress with its belligerent neighbor.

However, a rocket engine test could be performed there and that would send "a really strong signal" to Washington, Wit said.

"It's unfortunate because this was one of the unilateral steps that the North Koreans were making at the beginning of the negotiation process as sort of a confidence-building measure, and so certainly this does have implications for how the North Koreans are thinking about the negotiation process", Town said. They say each of the North's satellite launches was believed to have improved its missile technology.

Recently, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano reported that North Korea's Yongbyon uranium enrichment site is still active.

The development marked another bump in the road for the president, who after his first summit with Kim declared that the nuclear threat from North Korea no longer existed.

But CSIS said building activity is now "evident" at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, from where Pyongyang launched satellites in 2012 and 2016. This could suggest that North Korea acknowledged that the Tongchang-ri site is a nuclear-related facility.

In a statement, the two men described the move as part of a larger effort to make the Korean peninsula free from nuclear weapons.

But many outside experts say ballistic missiles and rockets used in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology.

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