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North Korea Rebuilds Part of Missile Site While Bolton Warns of New Sanctions

WASHINGTON – North Korea has restored part of the rocket test site it had begun dismantling after pledging to do so during a first summit with US President Donald Trump, while Trump’s national security adviser warned that new sanctions could be introduced if Pyongyang did not abandon its nuclear weapons program, Reuters reported Wednesday.
The South Korean Yonhap News Agency and two US think tanks announced Tuesday that work is under way at the Sohae launching station in Tongchang-ri, even as Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Hanoi last week.
This summit failed in the face of differences over North Korea’s willingness to limit its nuclear program and the degree of US willingness to mitigate sanctions.
Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, told Fox Business Network Tuesday that after the Hanoi summit, Washington would see if Pyongyang was determined to give up its nuclear weapons program and everything associated with it.
“If they do not want to do it, then I think President Trump has been very clear … they will not be relieved of the crushing economic sanctions that have been imposed on them and we will see how sanctions actually work,” he said, Bolton, a tough guy who advocated a harsh approach to North Korea in the past.
In addition, two US senators have tried to pressure North Korea by re-introducing a bill to impose sanctions on any bank that does business with its government.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that he hoped the US would send a delegation to North Korea in the coming weeks, but Bolton’s remarks and apparent evolutions at the Sohae test site could face new challenges for diplomats wanting to restart the negotiations after the failed summit.
The satellite images seen by 38 North, a North Korean project based in Washington, showed that the structures on the Sohae launch pad had been rebuilt between February 16 and March 2, Jenny Town, editor of the project and analyst at the Stimson Center think tank, told Reuters.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies released a report, also citing satellite images, which concluded that North Korea “is pursuing a rapid reconstruction” on the site.
“The activity is evident at the vertical engine test bed and at the launch pad rail-mounted rocket transfer structure, “says the SCRS report. “Significantly, the environmental shelters of the umbilical tower, which are normally closed, have been opened to show the launching pad.”
Asked to comment, the White House referred to the US State Department, which did not immediately respond.
A US government source said that the South Korean intelligence agency quoted by Yonhap, was considered reliable on such issues, but added that the works described did not seem particularly alarming, and certainly not on a scale of test resumption of missiles suspended since 2017.
Analysts warned that the site had never been used to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile and that there was no evidence to suggest that a test would be imminent, but that the site was used to test missile engines and that earlier satellite launches have resulted in successful talks with the United States.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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