North Korea has begun dismantling “a key missile site,” a step promised by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un after he met U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore last month, CNN reports.
“New images just today show that North Korea has begun the process of dismantling a key missile site, and we appreciate that,” President Trump said, in a reference to images of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, published Monday by the prominent monitoring group 38 North.
“Commercial satellite imagery of the launch pad from July 20 shows that the rail-mounted processing/transfer structure has been moved to the middle of the pad, exposing the underground rail transfer point—one of the few times it has been seen in this location. The roof and supporting structure have been partially removed and numerous vehicles are present—including a large construction crane. An image from two days later shows the continued presence of the crane and vehicles. Considerable progress has been made in dismantling the rail-mounted processing/transfer structure,” says the analysis made be 38 North’s Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.
The images show North Korea has started dismantling key facilities at the satellite launch station, a move analysts said represents “an important first step towards fulfilling a commitment” made by Kim during his summit with Trump.
According to Bloomberg, the report comes amid signs of disagreement between the U.S. and North Korean over the pace, sequence and potential outcomes of nuclear talks.
In absolute terms, this represents only a tiny fraction of North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure – but the action there has key components that may give cause for hope, Business Insider noted.
By removing the rail infrastructure to set up satellite vehicle launches, Pyongyang may have signaled it won’t look to exploit the same loopholes that have wrecked past deals. At Sohae, where cranes have been spotted tearing down an engine testing stand, the North Koreans have previously worked to develop engines for their intercontinental ballistic missiles, BI adds.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also stressed that reports of missile engine test facility dismantlement in North Korea are “entirely consistent” with the commitment Kim made to Trump in Singapore, and the U.S. has pushed for inspectors to be present. He also called on North Korea to make a a “complete, full denuclearization”.