U.S. spy satellites detected new activity at North Korea factory that built ICBMs

This July 22, 2018, satellite image released and annotated by 38 North on Monday, July 23, shows what the U.S. research group says is the partial dismantling of the rail-mounted transfer structure, at center, at the Sohae launch site in North Korea. 38 North said North Korea has started dismantling key facilities at its main satellite launch site in what appears to be a step toward fulfilling a commitment made by leader Kim Jong Un at his summit with President Donald Trump in June. (Airbus Defense & Space/38 North via AP)

Vastavam web: U.S. spy satellites have detected renewed activity at the North Korean factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, a senior U.S. official said on Monday, in the midst of talks to compel Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arms.Photos and infrared imaging indicate vehicles moving in and out of the facility at Sanumdong, but do not show how advanced any missile construction might be, the official told on condition of anonymity because the intelligence is classified.

According to the U.S. official who spoke to Reuters, one photo showed a truck and covered trailer similar to those the North has used to move its ICBMs. Since the trailer was covered, it was not possible to know what, if anything, it was carrying.The evidence obtained this month is the latest to suggest ongoing activity in North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities despite talks with the United States and a June summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

It was not the first time U.S. intelligence clashed with the president’s optimism.In late June, U.S. officials told U.S. media outlets that intelligence agencies believed North Korea had increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons and that it did not intend to fully give up its nuclear arsenal.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that North Korea was continuing to produce fuel for nuclear bombs despite its pledge to denuclearize. But he insisted the Trump administration was still making progress in its talks with Pyongyang.That was the case with U.S. negotiations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and more recently with Iran, “which continued to build more centrifuges capable of producing nuclear material even as it negotiated with the United States to limit those capabilities,” Wit said.

The Sanumdong factory produced two Hwasong-15 ICBMs, North Korea’s longest-range missiles, but the U.S. official noted that Pyongyang still had not tested a reliable re-entry vehicle capable of surviving a high-velocity trip through the Earth’s atmosphere and delivering a nuclear warhead.It is possible, the official said, that any new missiles the North is building may be for further testing of such vehicles and of more accurate guidance systems.“They seem to have figured out the engines, but not all the higher-tech stuff, and that might be what this is about,” the official said.