North Korea rebuilding missile facility: monitors

07, Mar. 2019

NEW YORK, Kyodo - New satellite images indicate that North Korea has started rebuilding a portion of a facility previously used to test long-range missile engines, according to two U.S. organizations that monitor the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would be “very disappointed” in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if the analyses were true.

The two organizations, 38 North and the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Beyond Parallel project, both said they have detected activity at the Tongchang-ri satellite launch facility, which was partially dismantled last year.

“Based on commercial satellite imagery, efforts to rebuild these structures started sometime between February 16 and March 2, 2019,” 38 North said in a report about the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri.

“On the launch pad, the rail-mounted transfer building is being reassembled,” it said. “At the engine test stand, it appears that the engine support structure is being reassembled.”

Beyond Parallel issued a similar assessment, saying satellite imagery taken Saturday, two days after the failed summit between Trump and Kim, showed Pyongyang “is pursuing a rapid rebuilding” of the rocket site.

The engine test stand at Sohae has been used to test large liquid-fueled rocket engines, applicable to both intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States and large space-launch vehicles.

At the summit in Hanoi, the United States and North Korea remained apart over the denuclearization steps that would lead to an easing of existing economic sanctions against Pyongyang.

“I would be very disappointed if that were happening,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday, in reference to the reported North Korean activity.

“It's a very early report. We're the ones that put it out. But I would be very, very disappointed in Chairman Kim, and I don't think I will be, but we'll see what happens. We'll take a look. It'll ultimately get solved,” he said.

Kim is chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party of Korea. (Kyodo)