As Chinese officials chide America for failing to be sufficiently kind to North Korea, that nation reportedly has begun dusting off the nuclear testing facility it partially destroyed in 2018.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday said the United States has failed to respond to “positive measures” from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that were “aimed at promoting dialogue.”
“Where to go next depends largely on what the American side does: will it really take concrete actions to solve the problem, or will it continue to use the [Korean] peninsula issue as a strategic bargaining chip?” Wang said, according to The Washington Post.
He said the United States must respond to North Korea’s “legitimate security concerns.”
The comments came as new satellite photos show very preliminary work taking place at the North Korean nuclear test site of Punggye-ri, said Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, according to NBC News.
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In the aftermath of those tests, Lewis said, his team began looking at what was taking shape in North Korea.
While noting that the activity was very preliminary, he said the fact that it took place at all was significant.
“One aspect of having so many commercial satellites in orbit is that we often catch construction activities in their very early stages, when it is difficult to conclude what precisely is being built or why,” Lewis said.
“However, this is the first activity we have seen at the site since North Korea dismantled it in May 2018,” he said.
Lewis said it is possible that North Korea has decided it wants the site to be functional again, but he noted that would take months, if not years.
“In the image, we see very early signs of activity at the new site, including construction of a new building, repair of another building and what is possibly some lumber and sawdust,” he said.
“North Korea uses a substantial amount of wood at the site both for buildings and shoring up tunnels. These changes occurred only in the past few days,” he said.
Pyongyang has continued to test new military technology. On Sunday, it said that missile tests the day before had brought it closer to having its own spy satellite, according to ABC News.
📢 #NorthKorea confirms new tests on spy satellite.
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Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the Sejong Institute in South Korea said the rhetoric might be stronger than North Korea’s achievement.
“While it may succeed in what it calls ‘a reconnaissance satellite launch,’ it would still likely take a very long time for North Korea to obtain militarily meaningful reconnaissance technology because of powerful international sanctions that restrict its import of high-tech equipment and its poor civilian technology,” Cheong said.
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