According to the Washington Post, U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States. The Post cites “officials familiar with the intelligence.” It also provides a commercial satellite image, taken on July 7, showing the factory in question. The photo includes a vehicle the Post says is similar to those used by North Korea to transport missiles.
Based on this and other evidence, U.S. officials reportedly believe that work is underway on at least one and possibly two liquid-fueled ICBMs at the factory. The Post says “the new intelligence does not suggest an expansion of North Korea’s capabilities but shows that work on advanced weapons is continuing. . . .”
I’m not sure I understand that statement. The North Koreans aren’t puttering around with new missiles for their health. Any work by North Korea on new missiles suggests an expansion of its nuclear capabilities, I would have thought.
There have also been reports that North Korea is operating a uranium enrichment facility in secret. Secretary of State Pompeo acknowledged last week in Senate testimony that North Korean factories “continue to produce fissile material” used in making nuclear weapons.
North Korea isn’t violating any promise I know of by continuing to work on ICBMs or by enriching uranium. The commitments it made to President Trump were too vague to preclude such activity. Indeed, the commitments regarding its nuclear weapons program were so vague as to be almost meaningless, in my view.
If the reported North Korean nuclear activity seems inconsistent with what went down at the meeting in Indonesia, it’s because Trump oversold the progress he made there. He declared that North Korea is “no longer a nuclear threat.”
That is not the case, as reports of its latest nuclear activities confirm.