North Korea has yet to dismantle six of its known missile launch sites despite U.S. President Donald Trump saying so, according to a watchdog.
Following the meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the U.S. president told reporters that Kim had destroyed a “major missile engine-testing site.”
“Chairman Kim has told me that North Korea is already destroying a major missile engine-testing site,” Trump said on June 12. “That’s not in your signed document; we agreed to that after the agreement was signed. That’s a big thing — for the missiles that they were testing, the site is going to be destroyed very soon.”
On Sunday, Trump said on Twitter the North “blew up launch sites.”
“Chuck Schumer said ‘the Summit was what the Texans call all cattle and no hat.’ Thank you Chuck, but are you sure you got that right? No more nuclear testing or rockets flying all over the place, blew up launch sites. Hostages already back, hero remains coming home & much more!” the president tweeted.
According to 38 North, a U.S.-based North Korea watchdog, satellite imagery suggests there’s been no change at six known launch and engine-testing facilities.
“Of these facilities and test stands, it is likely that President Trump’s comment on June 12 regarding the destruction of a ‘major missile engine-testing site’ was not referring to either the Iha-ri test stand—which was razed in May—or the Sinpo South Shipyard test stand that has not been used in approximately a year,” U.S. analyst Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. wrote in his analysis. “And contrary to the president’s statement, both sites have been solely used for ejection tests, not engine tests or launches.”
North Korea has not said it blew up launch sites. Before the summit, it destroyed something else — its test site for underground nuclear blasts. Journalists witnessed the demolition of three tunnels and nearby buildings. The site may have already been compromised by the earlier, nuclear explosions and its destruction was one step among many that would be needed to achieve denuclearization.
According to 38 North, most of the sites have not been used within the last two years, and the “Nampo Shipyard submersible test stand barge does not appear operational yet, and the Sinpo South Shipyard submersible test stand barge has also not been used in years”
Trump and Kim pledged at the historic summit in Singapore to move to a denuclearization of the North, while providing little on the specific plan and verification.
“President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” the leaders said in a joint statement. “President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The statement provided little detail of what Trump and Kim committed to in terms of timeline and verification of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and how many nukes Kim is sitting on.
— with a file from the Associated Press