On Tuesday, NBC News reported that researchers at Beyond Parallel have photos showing North Korea is pursuing the “rapid rebuilding” of a major rocket launch site, and evidence suggests they may be gearing up to resume missile testing:
Sohae Satellite Launching Station, North Korea’s only operational space launch facility, has been used in the past for satellite launches. These launches use similar technology to what is used for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“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 UN Security Council sanctions enacted in 2016-2017,” the analysts said. As NBC News reported, Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the defense think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), recently identified 20 undisclosed missile sites in North Korea.
The news is an extra humiliation for Trump, given that he failed to achieve anything at the summit, and given that he already decided to cancel annual military exercises with South Korea. He even excused Kim from any blame for the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was tortured in a North Korean prison and never woke up from a coma after being returned to the U.S.
It is also a humiliation for Trump because, at last week’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he boldly proclaimed that “the one thing we have … is we have no testing, no missiles going up, no rockets going up. No nuclear testing.” The work being done to reconstruct Sohae suggests that they may have plans for more missile tests shortly.
In some ways, the world breathed a sigh of relief when Trump backed off from mocking Kim as “little Rocket Man” and threatening to meet North Korea with “fire and fury.” But his new approach of total acquiescence seems to be going just as poorly.
IMAGE: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends meeting in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 29, 2015. KCNA/ via REUTERS/ File Photo