UN says North Korea still producing nuclear weapons
Saturday - 04/08/2018 10:32
WORRYING new satellite pictures show North Korea could be backtracking on a historic deal with US President Donald Trump.
NORTH Korea has not stopped producing nuclear missiles despite Kim Jong-un agreeing to scrap his rockets in June, UN experts have confirmed.
The Sun reports that a new report says the rogue state is violating United Nations sanctions by overseeing “a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products.”
A summary of the report said North Korea is also transferring coal at sea and flouting an arms embargo and financial sanctions.
The panel of experts said North Korea attempted to sell small arms and light weapons and other military equipment via foreign intermediaries, including Syrian arms traffickers in the case of Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen as well as Libya and Sudan.
Kim’s regime has continued military co-operation with Syria, in breach of UN sanctions, the report says.
Earlier this week, spy satellites have shown that North Korea is still trying to build nuke-wielding ballistic missiles — despite Kim agreeing to scrap the weapons in June.
Photos and infra-red imaging indicate vehicles moving in and out of a facility at Sanumdong but do not show how advanced any rocket construction might be, a senior US official told Reuters.
According to the Washington Post, North Korea appeared to be building one or two new liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The report claims the rockets were being built at the large research facility on the outskirts of Pyongyang, citing unidentified officials familiar with intelligence reporting.
According to the US official, one photo showed a truck and covered trailer similar to those the North has previously used to move its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Since the trailer was covered, it was not possible to know what, if anything, it was carrying.
ICBMs are nuclear-tipped long-range rockets which, if fired from North Korea, would be capable of reaching west coast of the United States.
The White House said it did not comment on intelligence.
A senior official at South Korea’s presidential office said US and South Korean intelligence agencies are closely looking into various North Korean movements, declining specific comment.
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.
This comes as a letter from Donald Trump to Kim was hand-delivered to North Korea’s top diplomat, officials confirmed today.
The message was in return for a note which the portly dictator sent to the US President as the two continue to discuss scrapping the rogue state’s nuke program.
US ambassador Sung Kim, who was with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, gave the white envelope to North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho during a meeting in Singapore.
The exchange happened immediately after Mr Pompeo and Mr Ri shook hands at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, reports the Washington Post.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed that Mr Pompeo told Mr Ri: “We should talk again soon.”
Nauert said that Ri replied in fluent English: “I agree. There are many productive conversations to be had.”
Trump and Kim met in Singapore in June, where they announced an agreement in which Kim reaffirmed his “unwavering” commitment to denuclearise.
Little progress on that front has been made in the weeks since.
On Friday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the US President had received a letter from Kim on Wednesday.
Mr Trump also posted a note on Twitter on Thursday thanking Kim for returning the remains of US soldiers killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War.
He also said he looked forward to seeing the dictator again.
“They’re going to continue working together towards complete and total denuclearisation,” Ms Sanders
Mr Trump said in that tweet to Kim: “I look forward to seeing you soon!”
The Republican firebrand has said repeatedly the deal has been positive since North Korea has maintained a freeze on nuclear and missile tests and has begun returning US war dead remains.
“I think it’s going to work out very well,” he told supporters at a rally in Tampa, Florida, on Tuesday night. “No tests, no rockets flying. But we’ll see what happens.”
However on July 24, it emerged that North Korea had started taking apart a key nuclear weapons site, satellite images showed.
An important picture from the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, in the northeast of the country, shows a building where space launch vehicles are prepared being torn down.
They were taken by respected North Korean experts at 38 North, who said a rocket engine test stand, used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles, was also being disassembled.
Its claims were backed up by unnamed South Korean officials who confirmed they have noticed key facilities being dismantled.
This comes as generals from the rival Koreas met today at their shared border for talks on easing their countries’ decades-long military standoff.
This was the second such meeting since their leaders held a landmark summit in April and pledged to reduce the danger of another war on the peninsula.
This article originally appeared in The Sun and is republished here with permission