NK seeks breakthrough by dismantling missile facilities

US-Led Sanctions Still Crippling North Korea's Economy

US-Led Sanctions Still Crippling North Korea's Economy

Satellite images indicate North Korea has begun dismantling key facilities at a site used to develop engines for ballistic missiles, a first step toward fulfilling a pledge made to U.S. President Donald Trump, a Washington-based think tank said on Monday.

38 North said satellite images from Friday showed the roof and supporting structure partially removed from the rail-mounted processing structure for the launch pad and numerous vehicles were present, including a large crane. The North has sent mixed signals on its readiness to give up its nuclear programs, and Mr. Trump's critics say there is still no firm outline of the steps North Korea is willing to take.

Lee said, if North Korea dismantles the entire Sohae launch area, it would reduce greatly the country's missile threat.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Thursday it was technically possible for North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons program within a year, but added that it was not likely to happen.

Separately on Tuesday, South Korea's Defence Ministry said it was planning "a test reduction of some guard post troops and equipment" along the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea.

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Pyongyang expressed frustration at high-level talks with Washington held earlier this month, stating the US made "unilateral, gangster-like" demands.

North Korea has insisted Sohae was only for developing satellites, but USA officials suspect it has also been used to ideal ICBM technology as the communist state sought to develop a nuclear weapon that could target the US mainland.

"We're also pursuing the denuclearization of North Korea and a new future of prosperity, security and peace on the Korean Peninsula and all of Asia".

If the United States is unwilling to replace the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War with a permanent peace that would ensure the survival of Kim's regime, Pyongyang will likely not proceed further with denuclearization talks, the source said.

Despite the skepticism in Washington, officials in South Korea said the move should be seen as a positive step forward in what is sure to be a long, slow-moving process.

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And the steps taken by North Korea so far are all reversible, says Dr Narang.

Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, said Monday that the dismantling is "a good move" but called it "the bare minimum that can be done at the site".

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo echoed Brook's statement, saying the challenge with North Korea is not over.

Kim in late 2017 declared his nuclear weapons and missile program was complete, following a torrent of nuclear and missile tests that include the detonation of a purported thermonuclear warhead and flight tests of three developmental ICBMs potentially capable of reaching the USA mainland.

" So we've seen the open press reporting about the missile engine test site, it'd be entirely consistent with the commitment that Chairman Kim made to President Trump when the two of them were in Singapore together, made that commitment to them orally".

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"Pompeo went to Pyongyang - he thought he was going to meet Kim Jong-un but he was just stonewalled for two days, subjected to "North Korea's gonna, North Korea's gonna".

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