On Tuesday, the president slammed “fake news” and claimed that “if not for me, we would now be at war with North Korea!”
“Many good conversations with North Korea-it is going well! In the meantime, no Rocket Launches or Nuclear Testing in 8 months,” Trump tweeted. “All of Asia is thrilled. Only the Opposition Party, which includes the Fake News, is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!”
Trump’s statement comes a day after the White House announced U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit the North later this week as doubts continue to mount about Kim’s willingness to abandon his weapons program.
An NBC News report on Friday quoted U.S. officials saying U.S. intelligence agencies believe North Korea has increased production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months and may try to hide these while seeking concessions in talks with the United States.
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that U.S. intelligence officials had concluded that North Korea did not intend to fully give up its nuclear arsenal and is considering ways to hide the number of weapons it has.
The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., issued a report on Monday saying recent satellite imagery showed North Korea was completing a major expansion of a key manufacturing plant for solid-fuel missiles.
The images showed North Korea finishing construction on the exterior of the plant around the time Kim was meeting with Trump, the report said.
WATCH: A series of recent reports from media and analysts are raising questions about just how committed Kim Jong Un is to abandoning his nuclear arsenal
Last week, 38 North, a U.S.-based North Korea watchdog, reported the North was making improvements at one of the country’s nuclear research centres at a “rapid pace” despite Kim’s pledge to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. Satellite imagery captured on June 21 suggests the North is continuing to upgrade infrastructure at its Yongbyon nuclear scientific research centre.
In 38 North’s latest analysis, the watchdog notes that the nuclear site’s plutonium production cooling system appears to have been completed while several buildings in and around the centre have been erected.
On June 12, Trump and the North Korean dictator pledged the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula following a historic meeting between the two leaders.
The watchdog also reported in late June that that satellite images captured in late May suggest 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. “And contrary to the president’s statement, both sites have been solely used for ejection tests, not engine tests or launches.”
North Korea has consistently refused in past rounds of failed negotiations to provide an inventory of its weapons program, and U.S. intelligence remains uncertain of how many nuclear warheads North Korea has.
–with a file from Reuters