Tuesday, July 31, 2018

North Korea is Building New Missiles

If at first you don’t succeed, it’s back to the drawing board. According to a new report by US intelligence agencies, that is what North Korea is up to.

The Washington Post reported that the US has evidence, which includes satellite photos, that show work on new missiles at the factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States. The findings show that as many as two missiles are being constructed at the Sanumdong plant near Pyongyang. The report notes that there is presently no evidence of an expansion of North Korean capabilities, but does indicate that the North Korean weapons programs are still active months after President Trump’s summit with Kim Jong Un.

Earlier in July, The Diplomat reported that North Korea’s secret enrichment facility at Kangson was almost certainly still enriching uranium. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress last week, “Yes, they continue to produce fissile material.”

On the other hand, there are also recent reports that North Korea is dismantling some equipment at a at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. The New York Times reported that a rocket engine test stand and a rail-mounted assembly building for space vehicles were being taken apart.

While there was widespread belief that Chairman Kim was proceeding with denuclearization after the Times report, the evidence from other sites shows that the situation is much more complex. The evidence from other sites shows that the North Korean nuclear and weapons programs are proceeding long after President Trump tweeted, “ There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”

It is not clear why some North Korean facilities are being dismantled while work is proceeding on uranium enrichment and new missiles. It is possible that the test facilities are being modernized, moved or are no longer needed.

President Trump and Chairman Kim signed a very vague and general statement, but diplomacy is ongoing with North Korea on more detailed agreements. South Korean generals met with their Northern counterparts on Tuesday for what was termed a “meaningful discussion,” but one that did not produce an agreement. The last report on talks between the US and North Korea was on July 7 when a North Korean statement called a two-day visit by Mike Pompeo “gangster-like” and “regrettable,” saying it had increased the possibility of war.

It seems increasingly likely that the North Koreans are back to the drawing board and continuing with their nuclear and missile programs. President Trump also needs to return to the drawing board with increased sanctions and an acknowledgement that the North Koreans are not dismantling their nuclear weapons program.

Originally published on The Resurgent

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