Seoul, March 11 (IANS) The South Korean military said on Monday that it was closely monitoring North Korean facilities for the possibility of Pyongyang carrying out a rocket launch or its first missile test in more than a year.
Satellite images analyzed by experts on March 5 showed that North Korea has been restoring facilities at a long-range rocket launch site that it had begun to dismantle last year as part of its disarmament process, reported Efe news agency.
This follows a failed bilateral summit with the US over the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“We are thoroughly tracking and monitoring all movements, including the possibility of (the North’s) preparation for a missile launch, under cooperation with the US,” Kim Joon-rak, spokesperson of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in comments published by local news agency Yonhap.
“But we can’t comment on concrete details,” he added.
When asked about activities reported last week in the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in the northwest of North Korea, Kim said they are “analyzing it with various possibilities in mind.”
According to analyses of the satellite images provided by two US-based think tanks, Pyongyang has been rebuilding some key structures of the Sohae launch site – also known as Tongchang-ri – leading to speculation that it could soon launch a satellite onboard a space rocket, something which the international community considers a cover for testing intercontinental missiles.
Other satellite images released on Saturday also showed activity at the Sanum-dong rocket production facility situated near Pyongyang, which is being seen as further evidence of possible missile launch preparations by the North Korean regime.
Some analysts have said that North Korea, which has not carried out weapon tests since November 2017, is mobilizing resources in Sohae with the aim of pressuring Washington after disagreements brought the recent summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi to a sudden end.
Although Pyongyang and Washington have given different versions of the summit outcome, the disagreements seem to revolve around dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and the volume of international sanctions on the country.