Satellite photographs suggest North Korea appears to be preparing to launch missiles or possibly a space rocket, less than two weeks after Donald Trump met with Kim Jong-un to try and bring an end to the country’s nuclear weapons programme.
Aerial images of a facility at Sanumdong near Pyongyang, show cars, lorries and cranes have arrived at the site. The factory was where North Korea built its first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.
The activity at Sanumdong comes after two US think tanks and South Korea’s spy agency said this week the North was also rebuilding a rocket launch site at Sohae in the west of the country.
Experts believe the activity is “probably connected”.
JUST IN: North Korea may be preparing to launch a missile or space rocket, based on satellite images shared exclusively with NPR. https://t.co/OllSw7ZYHf
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“When you put all that together, that’s really what it looks like when the North Koreans are in the process of building a rocket,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California told NPR.
Other experts are sceptical. Joel Wit from 38 North – a website which analyses activity in North Korea – told Reuters: “In the past there have been multiple reports about activity at this place (Sanumdong) that turned out to be false alarms.
“It could either be preparation for an eventual launch or not.”
The Sohae Satellite Launching Station has been used by North Korea for several space launch attempts in the past. It was last used in in 2016.
It was partially dismantled following Mr Trump and Mr Kim’s 2018 summit, but recent photographs suggest it is now fully operational again.