North Korea – New satellite images show major expansion of a nuclear plant

Nearly three weeks since North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un committed to complete denuclearization, multiple signs have emerged of expanding activity at his country’s nuclear facilities.

North Korea appears to be finalizing the expansion of a key ballistic missile manufacturing site, according to an analysis of satellite imagery by researchers in the United States.

If the reports are true, that would mean Kim has yet to take concrete steps to fulfill the pledge he made at a historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 12.

North Korea New satellite images show major expansion of a nuclear plant (2)

On Saturday, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that Pyongyang may have recently increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites. It’s possible that Kim’s government may be attempting to hide those pursuits as it seeks more concessions from the Trump administration, the officials continued.

Meanwhile last week, commercial satellite imagery from research group 38North — part of Washington-based think tank The Stimson Center — showed infrastructure upgrades at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, which is located north of Pyongyang.

The improvements include completed modifications to a plutonium production reactor’s cooling system, newly erected small buildings and continued construction on various support facilities, 38North said.

North Korea New satellite images show major expansion of a nuclear plant (3).jpg

In a separate analysis released on June 21, 38North also published satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station that showed no signs of dismantlement. The station, used to test large rocket engines that are part of intercontinental ballistic missiles, is speculated to be the same engine site that Trump said North Korea was destroying on June 12.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told CBS News Sunday that the US has a plan to dismantle North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in the space of a year, but that Pyongyang needs to reveal any undeclared weapons sites to move forward.

“There’s nobody involved in this discussion with North Korea in the administration who is overburdened by naïveté. We’ve seen how the North Koreans have behaved before,” Bolton said.

“The President’s been very clear. He is not going to make mistakes of prior administrations. We are going to pursue this, and we will see what happens.”

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