North Korea Is Reportedly Rebuilding a Missile Testing Site

Photo: Ahn Young-joon/AP

A week after the failed summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, it appears that the North Korean government has restarted construction on a site that they have used to launch engines that could power long-range missiles, according to the New York Times.

Satellite photos of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri were taken two days after the failed summit, and show “rapid progress” rebuilding structures on the rocket launch pad, the Times reported.

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This site has not been used to launch or test missiles, but has been used to launch satellites and test engines that could be used to power missiles that are capable of reaching the U.S.

“This distinction is important,” Jenny Town, managing editor of 38 North, a website that monitors North Korea, told the BBC. “The North Koreans likely see the rebuilding not as an active part of their missile program, but of their civilian space program—a distinction they have made repeatedly in the past.”

North Korea agreed to end missile testing after a summit last year between Trump and Kim. The dismantling of the site began shortly after. Trump has touted the agreement as a major achievement of his administration.

38 North wrote in its own report that the rebuilding may have begun as early as mid-February, before the summit. Intelligence officials told the Times that it’s possible the site was rebuilt so that a later dismantlement, thanks to a potential deal with Trump, would have been more dramatic. The site also would have been closer to testing missiles again were the talks to break down.

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Trump said last week in Hanoi that Kim has promised in their talks not to resume testing weapons.

Trump and Kim walked away from their summit last week unexpectedly and without an agreement. The administration tried to spin the meeting as positive and productive. Trump later blamed the breakdown of negotiations on his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s simultaneous testimony to Congress.

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