Not much is in agreement between the United States and North Korea, after the second summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Hanoi breakdown – not even the cause of the rift. (Feb. 28)
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would be “very disappointed” in Kim Jong Un if North Korea is rebuilding a rocket launch site just days after the two boasted of their strong relationship during a summit in Vietnam.
“I would be very disappointed if that is happening,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, cautioning that it was “a very early report.”
Satellite imagery released this week suggested North Korea began rapidly rebuilding the launch site just days after the Vietnam summit between Trump and Kim failed to achieve a breakthrough on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, the think tank that obtained and analyzed the images, said it spotted the activity at the Sohae (Tongchang-ri) launch facility in northwestern North Korea.
The Trump-Kim summit ended abruptly Feb. 28 after the two leaders could not agree on how to scale down North Korea’s nuclear program. Kim wanted sanctions relief for dismantling parts of its nuclear facilities. Trump wasn’t willing to give it.
The satellite images were taken March 2.
“We have to solve the problem,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “It will ultimately get solved.”
Joel Wit, a former official at the State Department and the founder of 38 North, a North Korea monitoring website, cautioned against reading too much into the report.
“There is no evidence #DPRK (North Korea) rebuilding of facilities is consistent with preparations for an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) test,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Aside from the fact that #DPRK has never tested an ICBM from Sohae – it’s a space launch vehicle launch site – preparation for any launch would require a wide range of activities not observed in the imagery,” he added.
North Korea earlier agreed to close the Sohae site as part of a trust-building exercise with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. Previous satellite pictures, taken in August, indicated that workers had started dismantling the facility.
Sohae has been used in the past for satellite launches that use intercontinental ballistic missile technology banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions.
It is not a nuclear facility.
CSIS described North Korea’s actions at Sohae as “deliberate and purposeful” and a reflection of the nation’s “plans to demonstrate resolve in the face of U.S. rejection.”
Contributing: David Jackson
While President Trump and Chairman Kim discussed denuclearization in Vietnam, North Korean hackers continued attacks on various U.S. and European companies. Veuer’s Justin Kircher has the story.
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