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World
06 Mar 2019

After Hanoi summit collapse, is N Korea rebuilding rocket site?

North Korea 'rebuilding' long-range rocket site, photos show

Activity has been detected at a North Korean long-range rocket site suggesting Pyongyang may be pursuing the "rapid rebuilding" of a test facility after the collapse of the Hanoi summit, according to the analysis of satellite imagery from a US think tank.

The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says activity is "evident" at the vertical engine test stand.

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North Korea 'rebuilding' long-range rocket site, photos show
Activity 'evident' at test stand and rocket transfer structure: CSIS

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Activity 'evident' at test stand and rocket transfer structure: CSIS

Activity was also seen at the launch pad's rail-mounted rocket transfer structure at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the facility from which Pyongyang launched satellites in 2012 and 2016, CSIS said.

Sohae Station is also the site Pyongyang used as a test stand to fire some of its rocket engines on the ground.

The satellite launches were condemned by the international community.

Reaction

The satellite launches were viewed as disguised ballistic missile tests

The international community widely viewed the satellite launches as disguised ballistic missile tests.

The renewed activity was recorded two days after the Hanoi (Vietnam capital) Summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, which ended early without an agreement, the CSIS researchers said.

During the summit, the North had requested the United States for sanctions relief.

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Current activity is deliberate and purposeful, say CSIS researchers

Observation

Current activity is deliberate and purposeful, say CSIS researchers

The activity may "demonstrate resolve in the face of US rejection" of the North's request for sanctions relief, the researchers said, adding, "This facility had been dormant since August 2018, indicating the current activity is deliberate and purposeful."

But Joel Wit, the director of the respected Washington-based 38 North project cautioned that the evidence was not necessarily "consistent with preparations for an ICBM test."

'Preparation for any launch would require wide range of activities'

"Aside from the fact that DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has never tested an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) from Sohae, a space vehicle launch site, preparation for any launch would require a wide range of activities not observed in the imagery," pointed out Wit.

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