Intelligence within the South Korean government reported Tuesday that North Korea had begun to reassemble launch sites for long-range missiles. Just days after President Donald Trump’s Hanoi summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the Yonhap News Agency reported new activity at a North Korean nuclear launch site.
Furthermore, NBC News published photos of new activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Facility, which uses similar technology to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to the report.
Analysts and researchers from Beyond Parallel used commercial imagery to determine the new activity, and Beyond Parallel has detected 20 undisclosed missile site within North Korea.
“This renewed activity, taken just two days after the inconclusive Hanoi Summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, may indicate North Korean plans to demonstrate resolve in the face of U.S. rejection of North Korea’s demands at the summit to lift five U.N. Security Council sanctions enacted in 2016-2017,” the NBC report read.
The imagery photographed on March 2 shows activity that is “evident at the vertical engine test stand and launch pad’s rail-mounted rocket transfer structure.”
The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates North Korean nuclear infrastructure.
Victor Cha, who is a co-author of the Beyond Parallel report, said the images indicated that North Korea was preparing for a test launch.
“The activity they are undertaking now is consistent with preparations for a test, though the imagery thus far does not show a missile being moved to the launch pad,” Cha said. “The activity on the ground…shows us that they do have a (nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile) capability that is not just developmental, but in the prototype phase. They’ve already tested a few of these and it looks like they’re preparing the launch pad for another act.”
When asked about the developments Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “We don’t comment on intelligence.”
President Trump and Kim Jong Un held their first historic summit in Singapore last June, and North Korea began dismantling its launching facility, according to the report.
“The facility has been dormant since August 2018, indicating the current activity is deliberate and purposeful,” the report stated, though other researchers said they witnessed low-level activity at the site during the otherwise dormant months.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” President Donald Trump said. “In fact, when I came home, they put out a statement that, actually, they were willing to do much less on the sanction front. But you see, that’s not what happened there.”
The initial meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un last year was an historical event, as no North Korean leader had ever met with a sitting president of the United States before then. After the meeting in Singapore, North Korea pledged to start dismantling its launch sites and also return the remains of Americans from the half century-old Korean War. Also, since then there had been no provocations of war or missile launching from the North Korean peninsula.
After a second meeting last week in Hanoi, Trump said he needed to walk away from any deals, and the activity in North Korea began shortly after that.
This article was updated to include an infographic.