Top US envoy to visit DPRK after reports of boosted nuclear program

World Today

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo once again heads to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It’s his third known trip to Pyongyang.

But progress is in doubt after recent reports on the DPRK’s nuclear program. A report from CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

Private satellite imagery analyzed by American scientists and published in the U.S. media appeared to show Pyongyang continuing to develop its missile and nuclear programs even as it pledged to dismantle them.

The Middlebury Institute of International Studies analyzed satellite images from a private company, Planet Labs. Those images were taken around the same time that Kim Jong Un met with U.S. President Donald Trump last month in Singapore.

Researchers said that the images appeared to show the DPRK completing a major expansion of a plant which makes parts for ballistic missiles. According to analysts, the facility makes parts for solid-fuel ballistic missiles; the kind that could strike U.S. military installations in Asia with a nuclear weapon.

There were also satellite images from June 21st, posted by 38North, the Hehnry L. Stimson’s Center’s website devoted to analysis of the DPRK. They suggested improvements were made for the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center. That facility produced the weapons-grade plutonium and uranium for the DPRK’s six nuclear weapons tests.

Washington presses Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile programs, but officials refused to talk about a timeline for that process. Pyongyang has agreed, in principle, but wants security and economic guarantees.

Meanwhile, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said that Secretary Pompeo has a day-and-a-half of meetings planned so far. He’s due in Pyongyang on Thursday, July 5th. The State Department is allowing six reporters to accompany the secretary. This could mean more independent information on what gets accomplished this time around.

This is after President Trump took a twitter victory lap:

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said that administration is acknowledging the progress that’s been made.

Remember a year ago today, Pyongyang tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile which is believed capable of reaching the continental United States.

It has been unclear whether President Trump and Secretary Pompeo are on the same page with respect to their approach on the DPRK. Last month, Pompeo said he believes the DPRK remains a nuclear threat to the United States. Earlier, Trump had said Pyongyang no longer poses a threat.