Koreas hold military talks in DMZ despite new DPRK missile production

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In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Lt. Gen. An Ik San, center, crosses to southern side for the meeting with South Korea at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Generals from the rival Koreas met Tuesday at their shared border for talks meant to ease a decades-long military standoff, Seoul officials said. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

New satellite images suggest the nuclear threat from Pyongyang is far from over. They appear to show the DPRK working on new, intercontinental ballistic missiles. However, that didn’t stop Seoul and Pyongyang from holding high-level, military talks in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

CGTN’s Jack Barton filed this report from the DMZ.

It’s the third time that a military meeting has been held between the DPRK and South Korea since the start of the year. That’s when inter-Korean relations began to dramatically improve. Seoul and Pyongyang have already re-opened military hotlines on the east and west seas, trying to prevent future naval clashes.

On Tuesday, the delegates spoke of turning the tense, west sea into a peace zone. This could prevent what are still regular naval standoffs.

This handout photo taken and provided by South Korean Defence Ministry on July 31, 2018 shows South Korea’s chief delegate Major General Kim Do-gyun (2nd L) speaking with his North Korean counterpart An Ik San (2nd R) during their general-level military talks at the South side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas. (AFP PHOTO / South Korean Defence Ministry / handout)

South Korea is set to begin a trial phase of removing troops and equipment from the 60 outposts it maintains within the DMZ. It is also keen on the DPRK to do the same at its 160 outposts. They were also expected to hold discussions about disarming the joint security area, where inter-Korean talks (including the latest one) are held.

As the talks were underway, a high ranking official at the president’s office announced that a formal end to the Korean War might require China’s involvement. It highlighted the importance of China in denuclearization efforts. However, the official also said the most important thing, despite whoever was involved, was that a peace agreement be struck by the end of the year.

This handout photo taken and provided by the South Korean Defence Ministry on July 31, 2018 shows South Korea’s chief delegate Major General Kim Do-gyun (R) shaking hands with his North Korean counterpart An Ik San (2nd L) during their general-level military talks at the South side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas. (AFP PHOTO / South Korean Defence Ministry / handout)

But despite this positive momentum, there may be trouble ahead. U.S. defense officials have said that satellite imagery indicates the DPRK may be building up to two, new Hwasong 15 intercontinental ballistic missiles at the Sanumdong nuclear facility.

A satellite image shows the Sanumdong missile production site in North Korea on July 29, 2018. (Planet Labs Inc/Handout via REUTERS)

These missiles would be capable of hitting the mainland U.S. The images also appear to show the construction of two, new buildings at the site. This follows reports that far from halting the enrichment of uranium, the DPRK may be ramping up production.


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