North Korea is restoring a rocket launch site it had dismantled as part of its disarmament pledge last year — just a week after a nuclear summit between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump ended without an agreement, reports said Wednesday.
New satellite images show that efforts to rebuild some structures at the Tongchang-ri launch site started between Feb. 16 and March 2, the Associated Press reported, citing 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies, Fox News reports.
The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service provided the assessment about the North’s Tongchang-ri launch site to lawmakers during a private briefing Tuesday. North Korea didn’t immediately respond in its state media.
An article from 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies, cited commercial satellite imagery as indicating that efforts to rebuild some structures at the site started sometime between Feb. 16 and March 2.
One of the South Korean lawmakers who attended the briefing said Wednesday that NIS director Suh Hoon said the structures being restored at the launch site include roofs and building doors.
The lawmaker requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.
He quoted Suh as saying that the move could be preparation to restart long-range rocket launches if nuclear diplomacy completely collapses, or could be an attempt to add structures that could be dramatically blown up in a show of denuclearization commitment when U.S. inspectors visit if negotiations with Washington go well.
The rail-mounted processing building, which is where space launch vehicles are worked on before they’re moved to the launch pad, is being reassembled. Two support cranes can be seen at the building, and walls have been erected and a new roof added as well as the engine support structure is being reassembled.
Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, issued a similar assessment of the Tongchang-ri site. It said satellite imagery taken Saturday, two days after the failed summit, showed North Korea “is pursuing a rapid rebuilding” of the rocket site.
Chris “Badger” Thomas is a Veteran who served our country as an Army Combat Medic.