State Department Source: Officials Watching North Korea Site 'in Real Time'


Talks between President Trump and Kim Jung Un collapsed in late February as the two leaders failed to reach an agreement at their second summit held in Hanoi.

This follows an assessment by United States think tank 38 North, a respected North Korea monitoring website, that North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launch Facility, which had been partially disassembled as part of a pledge by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is now back to normal operational status after a flurry of restoration work in recent weeks - work that appears to have picked up after Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un's failed summit in Hanoi.

The failed summit was a blow for Moon, who had hoped USA sanctions relief would boost South-North projects including a factory park, tourism zone and railway network.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said that "time will tell", but he believes his relationship with the North Korean leader "remains good".

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he's a "little disappointed" by reports of new activity at a North Korean missile research center and long-range rocket site and that time will tell if us diplomacy with the reclusive country will be successful.

But Kim's appointment could also exacerbate divisions within Moon's government, some analysts said, and fuel USA concerns that the South may be moving too quickly with the North.

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper has also reported that South Korea's National Intelligence Service told lawmakers that it detected signs of North Korea restoring part of the Tongchang-ri missile launch site it tore down in July.

Some observers say omitting the status of the nuclear talks also shows the North hopes to continue negotiations, while also not letting North Korean people know of any diplomatic failures that could damage Kim's leadership.

The images from Sanudong, where North Korea has previously built its ballistic missiles and other rockets, suggest that North Korea may be preparing to move a missile to a launch area.

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However, the a State Department official warned that the US would regard any launch into space as a violation of Trump and Kim's good relationship.

"I inherited a mess with North Korea", Trump added.

Trump's envoy to North Korea, Steve Biegun, had lunch Wednesday at the State Department with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea. The intent of the North Koreans in this matter is known only to them at this point.

North Korean officials, who were full of beans ahead of the Hanoi summit, appear to have been caught completely off guard when Trump got up and walked away.

A senior State Department official told reporters on Thursday that Washington was keen to resume talks as soon as possible, but North Korea's negotiators needed to be given more latitude than they were ahead of the summit.

It comes after reports earlier this week that North Korea's main rocket launch site at Sohae had been rebuilt. Additional work at the stand, such as the construction of a shelter on the entrance ramp, could indicate preparations to test rocket engines again, it said.

Other experts, including Joel Wit at 38 North and Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies considered the conclusion speculative.

In the U.S., satellite photographs have been published that appear to show the reopening of a space rocket launch site.

Trump's comments came after two U.S. think tanks and Seoul's spy agency said this week that North Korea was rebuilding a rocket launch site at Sohae in the west of the country.