U.S. detects new activity at North Korea factory that built ICBMs: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.

Reuters July 31, 2018 07:05:39 IST
U.S. detects new activity at North Korea factory that built ICBMs: source

US detects new activity at North Korea factory that built ICBMs source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. spy satellites have detected renewed activity at the North Korean factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, a senior U.S. official said on Monday, in the midst of talks to compel Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arms.

Photos and infrared imaging indicate vehicles moving in and out of the facility at Sanumdong, but do not show how advanced any missile construction might be, the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity because the intelligence is classified.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that North Korea appeared to be building one or two new liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles at the large research facility on the outskirts of Pyongyang, citing unidentified officials familiar with intelligence reporting.

According to the U.S. official who spoke to Reuters, one photo showed a truck and covered trailer similar to those the North has used to move its ICBMs. Since the trailer was covered, it was not possible to know what, if anything, it was carrying.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The evidence obtained this month is the latest to suggest ongoing activity in North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities despite talks with the United States and a June summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump declared soon afterward that North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat. Kim committed in a broad summit statement to work toward denuclearisation, but Pyongyang has offered no details as to how it might go about that and subsequent talks have not gone smoothly.

It was not the first time U.S. intelligence clashed with the president's optimism.

In late June, U.S. officials told U.S. media outlets that intelligence agencies believed North Korea had increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons and that it did not intend to fully give up its nuclear arsenal.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that North Korea was continuing to produce fuel for nuclear bombs despite its pledge to denuclearize. But he insisted the Trump administration was still making progress in its talks with Pyongyang.

The Sanumdong factory produced two Hwasong-15 ICBMs, North Korea’s longest-range missiles, but the U.S. 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.

It is possible, the official said, that any new missiles the North is building may be for further testing of such vehicles and of more accurate guidance systems.

“They seem to have figured out the engines, but not all the higher-tech stuff, and that might be what this is about,” the official said.

“What’s more, a liquid-fuelled ICBM doesn’t pose nearly the threat that a solid-fuelled one would because they take so long to fuel, and that’s something we almost certainly could see in time to abort a launch, given our assets in the vicinity.”

(Reporting by David Alexander; Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Peter Cooney)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.