The United States (U.S.) based National Public Radio (NPR) has reported that according to the satellite images available, North Korea may be planning to launch a missile or a satellite.
The images were taken on February 22, 2019 by imaging company Digital Globe at the Sanumdong facility near Pyongyang, where North Korea has assembled its intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellite-launching rockets. The images show an increase in the number of activities happening around the facility. For the records, North Korea had earlier assembled some of its intercontinental ballistic missiles and satellite-launching rockets at Sanumdong.
The pictures show trucks and cars parked nearby. Besides, rail cars and 2 cranes are also visible in the images.
The Director of the East Asia Non-proliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey – Jeffrey Lewis said, “We’re seeing a lot of vehicle activity at the Sanumdong facility and also at the rail transfer point where it would be loaded and taken to Sohae. I think the evidence points to a satellite launch, and not just the evidence at Sanumdong, but also the evidence from Sohae.”
He also mentioned that it is impossible to know if North Korea is preparing a military missile or a space rocket. North Korea’s missile program made strides in 2017, when Pyongyang said it has successfully test-fired 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Speaking on the images, Trump said, “I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we’ll see what happens. I would be very disappointed if I saw testing.”
The images were released after the Hanoi Summit on February 28, 2019 between Trump and Supreme Leader of Korea – Kim Jong-un, ended abruptly. Trump had said that Korea had asked for lifting of all sanctions in exchange for dismantling Korea’s main nuclear complex. However, Trump had also said that both the countries have departed amicably with options open for future negotiations.
The Korean media reported that Korean people are feeling regretful, blaming the U.S. for the summit that ended without an agreement
Separately, as per the assessment by North Korea monitoring website, ‘38 North’, the Sohae satellite launch facility, which had been partially disassembled during the disarmament talks, has now resumed normal operations. The Sohae launch facility at the Tongchang-ri site has been used for satellite launches and engine testing but never for ballistic missile launches. However, the recent reports suggest that rapid progress has been made in rebuilding structures on the rocket launch pad.