Despite its recent warming ties with the U.S., North Korea is building new ballistic missiles. Some anonymous U.S. officials had reported spotting of continued activity at a ballistic missile producing site by the spy satellites. The officials are unclear about how far the work has gone.
The American president met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June.
The two leaders assured to take initiative towards denuclearization, after the first meeting between them. Trump later clarified that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat.
But back in America, Trump faced backlash for making allowances without securing any firm commitment from Mr. Kim to put an end to the missile and nuclear programmes.
The Washington Post on Monday quoted the officials’ finding of North Korea’s building of new liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) near the capital Pyongyang, near Sanumdong facility.
The factory is known to have produced the first North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the US, the Hwasong-15.
As per the U.S. officials, a liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) does not pose as much threat as a solid-fueled one would because the solid-fueled missiles take much longer to fuel as compared to the liquid ones.
The satellite imagery only emphasized the ins and outs of vehicles in the facility. However, it did not have any information about the extent of any missile construction.
Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) told the Washington Post, “Satellite imagery of the Sanumdong facility shows that the site is active.”
He further added, “[The facility] is not dead, by any stretch of the imagination. We see shipping containers and vehicles coming and going. This is a facility where they build ICBMs and space-launch vehicles.”
Melissa Hanham, another North Korean expert from MIIS, remarked on Twitter that there were no changes in the “pattern of life” and on the site, it stayed “about the same through the Panmunjom and Singapore meetings.”
Thus, this hints that there had been no complete stoppage in the activities throughout the summit talks.
Nevertheless, she stated that experts at MIIS were not able to “confirm all parts of the leak.”
All in all, North Korea has executed 6 nuclear tests, the most recent one being carried out in September last year. In the past two years, North Korea has rapidly advanced its nuclear programme.
At the landmark meeting conducted in Singapore, both the leaders had vowed to work towards the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
However, it’s still indistinct what both leaders meant by “complete denuclearization”, also no additional details about how or when Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons has been released. The verification process is also unclear.
Experts expressed their doubts regarding the authenticity of Pyongyang’s commitment to “denuclearize.”
If the recent reports based on U.S. intelligence leaks were to be believed, Pyongyang may be slyly working on its nuclear weapons programme, although last week it had started the process of dismantling a part of an important rocket launch site.
The reports further indicated towards North Korea’s attempt to step up enrichment at other underground sites and upgrade its one and only official nuclear enrichment site.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, forcibly admitted last week that North Korea was persistent with its production of the nuclear fissile material.