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Analysts: North Korea Is Rebuilding Launch Site

Work is 'consistent with preparations for a test'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2019 2:02 AM CST
North Korea's Unha-3 rocket lifts off from the Sohae launch pad in Tongchang-ri, North Korea.   (AP Photo/KCNA, File)
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(Newser) – North Korea has been rapidly rebuilding a rocket launch site it promised to dismantle last year, analysts say. Experts at the Beyond Parallel group say images from Saturday show that activity at the Sohae site, which has been used for satellite launches and missile engine testing, is "consistent with preparations for a test," NBC News reports. The group believes Pyongyang may be trying to "demonstrate resolve" after the collapse of the President Trump-Kim Jong Un summit last week. South Korean intelligence officials, however, suspect the rebuilding may have started weeks ago, possibly so that North Korea could have something dramatic to dismantle if the summit went well, or the ability to resume testing quickly if talks failed, the New York Times reports.

North Korea began dismantling some Sohae facilities after the first Trump-Kim summit last year. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders declined to comment on the apparent rebuilding, saying: "We don't comment on intelligence." BBC analyst Laura Bicker says the work appears to send an "ominous signal," but Pyongyang's intentions are unclear. "This renewed activity may be Pyongyang's way of prodding Washington, just a little reminder to the Trump administration that it has the technology to build weapons and it will not give that up easily," she says. "Most analysts believe it is more likely, at this stage, that Mr Kim is testing Mr Trump's boundaries and patience, rather than getting ready to test a ballistic missile." (North Korea disputes Trump's explanation of why the talks failed.)

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