Spy agencies suspect North Korea building new missiles
02 August, 2018, 01:54 | Author: Gregory Stephens
North Korea allowed the United States to send a cargo plane to collect the remains and fly them to Osan on Friday, partially fulfilling a promise its leader, Kim Jong Un, made during his June 12 summit with President Donald Trump.
With South Korean President Moon Jae-in a prime proponent of greater contacts with Pyongyang, North and South Korean military officials continue to hold their own talks in pursuit of a thaw in military tensions that have divided the two since the early-1950s Korean War was frozen by an armistice.
The Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's official party newspaper, accused Seoul of "wasting time" waiting for sanctions to be lifted only after denuclearization is completed, without "taking a single action" on its own.
A US military aircraft left North Korea last week carrying 55 boxes handed over by Kim Jong Un's regime that are believed to contain the remains of USA service members. North Korea has nearly certainly not sent back anything close to 200 bodies.
The Sanumdong factory produced two Hwasong-15 ICBMs, North Korea's longest-range missiles, but the United States 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.
After a solemn ceremony at the USA military's Osan Air Base in South Korea, 55 boxes of remains draped in the United Nations flag were taken to a US military plane, which will then take them to a military laboratory in Hawaii for further analysis and identification.
In recent months, USA agencies have raised their estimates of the size of North Korea's nuclear arsenal. Moreover, the test stand could easily be rebuilt within months.
Independent missile experts also told The Washington Post that they have found evidence that is consistent with us agency findings and that there is ongoing activity. The Monterey, Calif., nonprofit group analyzed commercial photos obtained from the satellite imagery firm Planet.
"We see them going to work, just as before", one USA official told the paper.
Space launch vehicles were assembled at the shelter - which hadn't been moved since December 2017 - before they are moved to the launchpad, according to 38North analyst Joseph Bermudez Jr.
A photo taken on July 7, for instance, shows a bright-red covered trailer in a loading area, which appears identical to those used by North Korea in the past to transport ICBMs.
DPAA deputy director Rear Admiral Jon Kreitz said he saw the remains transfer as an important step that will lead to more recovery operations in North Korea.
The DPAA Laboratory at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, is the first USA stop for the recently returned remains. If so, North Korea's stockpile of enriched uranium could be substantially higher than is commonly believed.
However, John Byrd, a U.S. Department of Defense forensic anthropologist told reporters at the Osan air base in South Korea that there was "no reason to doubt" that the boxes of remains "do relate to Korean War losses", and that at least some are likely American. However, while USA intelligence agencies agree that the Kangson site is used to enrich uranium, not all European intelligence officials are so sure. Both are in line with Kim's directive during his 2018 New Year's Day address for the country's missile engineers and nuclear scientists to mass produce warheads and missiles.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that the two sides had agreed to recommence field operations in North Korea to search for the missing Americans, and the Pentagon say it is considering sending personnel to North Korea for this objective. "They have missing, France has missing, Americans have".
"Pressure on the regime is clearly being felt", Pompeo said. "But even if they are, you still have a nuclear deterrent, so it would still be a huge risk for the U.S.to try to attack". It has in the past two years quickly advanced its nuclear programme.
Foreign-policy experts have remained skeptical about North Korea's intentions, given its history on withdrawing from prior agreements. He brushed aside suggestions that the administration had been deceived by Kim. "We have not been taken for a ride", he said.
Besides being the US's largest trading partner, China is arguably the most important player in Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign to force Kim to give up his nuclear arsenal.
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