by Alice Monroe
One of the key takeaways from the famous meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un was the continued discussion over whether or not Pyongyang would effectively tie up or dismantle their nuclear testing platform or rocket launch sites. The US had led into the meeting by suggesting that they would encourage nuclear disarmament – and following a back-and-forth between the two parties which nearly resulted in no meeting happening at all, Kim advised that he would commit to pursuing an end to nuclear testing. There has also been talk of launch sites being dismantled – and if news reaching us this week is anything to go by, the North Koreans are starting to make good on their pledges.
Images obtained via satellite above Sohae, a station believed by many to be a primary rocket-launching site, seem to suggest that dismantling has in fact begun. North Korea has continued to maintain that the site merely launches satellites itself – but US intelligence believe that missile testing and launching may in fact be in play here. A lack of finite details with regard to how Kim would order what was considered ‘complete denuclearization’ of North Korea has left many rather sceptical of how things are to proceed – but if satellite images of Sohae are to be believed – and if it is indeed a missile launching site as suspected – it appears that the mooted process is already well underway.
▶ New Satellite Images May Show North Korea Dismantling Nuclear Sites
Leaks from US intelligence, however, suggest that North Korea may be continuing to develop weapons in private despite having led with messages in antithesis to this at the Trump-Kim summit. Leaks suggest that Yongbyon, which is thought to be a ‘nuclear enrichment site, is in fact undergoing an upgrade – and this appears to have been verified by seasoned eyes on North Korean developments. It will remain to be seen if these claims can be verified – for now, however, it appears that while dismantling of one site is continuing, it’s thought weapons may still be getting built up elsewhere.
North Korea’s nuclear testing program grew to a head late last year and it has been overall surprising that there has been such a move in the other direction in the last few months. Despite Kim’s apparent diplomatic tour of late, there are still some concerned that the secluded state may still be progressing down the same road as before.