North Korea is reportedly rebuilding a part of its missile-launch site, which it had promised to dismantle after its leader Kim Jong Un's first summit with United States president Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12, 2018. Pyongyang had earlier said that the Tongchang-ri site, also known as Sohae, has been shut down and that the nation was carrying out no activities at the site.
Not just that, Pyongyang had also spoken to South Korea about the site and offered to completely dismantle the facility in the presence of US experts. However, it looks like that offer no longer stands and South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) has now said that Pyongyang is undertaking restoring work at the site and has also replaced a roof and a door there, Yonhap News Agency reported on Tuesday, March 5.
The same has been confirmed by 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea thinktank, which said that satellite images had captured quite some activity at the Tongchang-ri site. In addition, the images also showed construction cranes and a few rebuilt structures, suggesting that the site had been restored sometime between February 16 and March 2.
The reports come days after the second round of talks between Trump and Kim broke down in Hanoi, Vietnam. While the two leaders met on February 27 and 28 with much positivity, the US and North Korea couldn't agree on Pyongyang completely shutting down its nuclear programme and Washington lifting the sanctions. Trump and Kim met for dinner on February 27 and for talks and a media interaction on February 28. However, the talks hit a wall, and the duo cancelled a working lunch later.
The US hopes to discuss North Korea's denuclearisation again and Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, has already spoken about how Washington planned to send a delegation to North Korea in the coming weeks.
While the satellite images are considered reliable, a US government source said that Washington would watch North Korea's moves and ascertain if it seriously wanted to restore its nuclear programme. For now, the official believes that the rebuilding work isn't really alarming and doesn't necessarily mean that the reclusive nation was renewing its nuclear programme, reported Reuters.
Nevertheless, the US president's national security adviser John Bolton has warned that Pyongyang could be looking at more sanctions, if it did not put an end to its rebuilding activities and the nuclear programme. Speaking to Fox Business Network, Bolton explained that Washington wanted to see how committed Pyongyang was to scraping its nuclear weapons programme.
"If they're not willing to do it, then I think President Trump has been very clear ... they're not going to get relief from the crushing economic sanctions that have been imposed on them and we'll look at ramping those sanctions up in fact," he added.