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It Looks Like North Korea Is Dismantling Missile Test Site

Satellite images show what's going on at Sohae, though it's not clear how big a step this is
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2018 1:02 AM CDT
A TV screen shows a satellite image of North Korea's Sohae launch site, during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Kore, Tuesday, July 24, 2018.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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(Newser) – Just days after the Korean Peninsula's top US military commander warned that North Korea's nuclear production capability remains intact, some slightly more encouraging news: The country appears to be dismantling its main satellite launch site, the BBC reports. US-based monitoring group 38 North reported Monday that satellite images of the country's Sohae station, believed by the US to be a test site for launching intercontinental ballistic missiles, appear to show that North Korea has started dismantling "key facilities" at the site. And an official from South Korea's presidential office said Tuesday that Seoul has also been detecting dismantlement activities at the site, the AP reports. 38 North calls it "an important first step towards fulfilling a commitment made by Kim Jong Un at the June 12 Singapore Summit" with President Trump, during which Kim reportedly agreed to denuclearize.

But analysts say that unless the entire Sohae site is dismantled, North Korea's military capabilities won't be diminshed. And sources tell CNN that North Korea expects the US to reciprocate in the form of agreeing to a permanent peace treaty with Pyongyang, that ensures the survival of Kim's regime, if negotiations are to continue. Multiple sources recently told the Washington Post that Trump, who has publicly been urging patience with the denuclearization process, has privately been expressing frustration with the perceived slow pace. But Trump hit back at that report Monday, tweeting, "A Rocket has not been launched by North Korea in 9 months. Likewise, no Nuclear Tests. Japan is happy, all of Asia is happy. But the Fake News is saying, without ever asking me (always anonymous sources), that I am angry because it is not going fast enough. Wrong, very happy!" (Read more North Korea stories.)

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