World March 8, 2019

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S.Korea Reported N.Korea’s Suspicious Movement at ICBM Plant

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South Korean media revealed North Korea’s new activities at an intercontinental ballistic missiles plant, said on Thursday.

Ariana News Agency-

Movement of cargo vehicles was spotted recently around a factory at Sanumdong in Pyongyang, which produced North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States, South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo and Donga Ilbo newspapers reported, citing lawmakers briefed by the National Intelligence Service on Tuesday, reported by Reuters.

Spy chief Suh Hoon told the lawmakers he viewed the activity as missile-related, the JoongAng Ilbo said. It quoted Suh as saying North Korea continued to run its uranium enrichment facility at the main Yongbyon nuclear complex after the first summit between Trump and its leader, Kim Jong Un, in June in Singapore.

The reports came after the leaders’ second summit in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi broke down last week over differences on the limits North Korea was ready to put on its nuclear program and how willing the U.S. was to ease sanctions.

The Sanumdong factory produced the Hwasong-15 ICBM, which can fly more than 13,000 km (8,080 miles). After its test flight in late 2017, North Korea declared the completion of its “state nuclear force,” before pursuing talks with South Korea and the United States last year.

South Korea’s presidential office and defense ministry declined to confirm the reports on Sanumdong, saying they are closely monitoring North Korea’s activities together with the United States.

There was no immediate response from the U.S. State Department.

On Tuesday, two U.S. think tanks and Seoul’s spy agency said work was underway to restore part of the North’s Sohae rocket launch site that Kim, at the Singapore summit, vowed to dismantle.

“I would be very disappointed if that were happening,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, when asked if North Korea was breaking a promise.

“It’s a very early report. We’re the ones that put it out. But I would be very, very disappointed in Chairman Kim, and I don’t think I will be, but we’ll see what happens. We’ll take a look. It’ll ultimately get solved.”

Imagery from Planet Labs Inc. analyzed by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California showed activity at Sohae from Feb. 23 until Wednesday.

The Washington-based Stimson Center’s 38 North said photos from Wednesday showed the rail-mounted transfer building used to move rockets at the site was now complete, cranes had been removed from the launch pad and the transfer building moved to the end of the pad.

“But we don’t draw any conclusions from that besides they are restoring the facility,” Joel Wit of 38 North told Reuters. “There is no evidence to suggest anything more than that.”

A U.S. government source said the work at Sohae probably began before the summit, which was preceded by lower-level talks in February.

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