N.Korea stops missile base dismantling, satellite photos show

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Pyongyang, Aug 23 (IANS) Satellite photos have shown that North Korea has halted the dismantling of its Sohae missile launching facilities, a measure which Kim Jong-un had pledged to achieve during his Singapore summit with US President Donald Trump.

Images obtained on August 16 and analysed on Thursday by 38 North – a website devoted to analysis of North Korea – showed that there has been “no significant dismantlement activity” at these facilities when compared with other images taken two weeks ago, reports Efe news.

Although notable progress of the dismantling of key structures at the Sohae facilities – located in North Pyongyang Province – was observed between July and early August, “work on the rail-mounted transfer/processing building appears to have stalled”, the website said.

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“The components previously removed remain stacked on the ground,” while other structures remain intact and there have been “fewer vehicles” parked at the facilities.

The website was first to report in late July that Pyongyang had started to dismantle Sohae facilities, which corresponded with what Kim and Trump had informally agreed at their historic June 12 summit.

The stagnation of the dismantling process, in turn, takes place amid the apparent deadlock in the dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang which sought to achieve the “complete denuclearization” in exchange for the US guaranteeing the survival of the Kim regime, one of the agreements reached at that meeting.

It is believed that the Sohae facilities were the test site for some of the largest liquid-fuel engines for long-range missiles, so the dismantling of this site was seen as a goodwill gesture by the regime towards denuclearization.

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However, some analysts pointed out that Sohae no longer represents such an important epicentre for the North Korean weapons programme compared to those for the development of solid fuel missiles.

–IANS

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