North Korea: Satellite Footage Shows Activity On Rocket Site The Week Before Hanoi Summit Failure

Satellite images taken of North Korea suggests that the country could be preparing to launch a missile or satellite, according to reports.

The images from a facility near Pyongyang known as Sanumdong were taken by DigitalGlobe on February 22 and shared with NPR. The images appear to show activity such as cars and trucks moving around the facility, as well as cranes being erected.

The images from Sanudong, where North Korea has previously built its ballistic missiles and other rockets, suggest that North Korea may be preparing to move a missile to a launch area.

"When you put all that together, that's really what it looks like when the North Koreans are in the process of building a rocket," Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, told NPR.

The release of the images arrives in the wake of stalled talks between the U.S. and North Korea regarding the state's nuclear programme and just days after reports said that North Korea had begun to reassemble its Sohae satellite launch facility, which has been used for several attempted space launches over the years.

The Sohae plant was partially dismantled in the wake of the historical summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June 2018.

"We're seeing a lot of vehicle activity at the Sanumdong facility and also at the rail transfer point where it would be loaded and taken to Sohae," Lewis told CNN.

"I think the evidence points to a satellite launch, and not just the evidence at Sanumdong, but also the evidence from Sohae."

Trump described how he would be "very disappointed" if North Korea were planning to resume weapons testing.

"Well, time will tell, but I have a feeling that our relationship with North Korea — Kim Jong Un and myself—Chairman Kim—think it's a very good one," Trump said on the South Lawn on March 8. "I think it remains good. I would be surprised, in a negative way, if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we'll see what happens.

"I inherited a mess with North Korea," Trump added. "And right now, you have no testing. You have no nothing. Let's see what happens. But I would be very disappointed if I saw testing."

Melissa Hanham, a North Korea expert with the One Earth Future Foundation, said the increase in activity at the site shows that the two countries are "moving farther apart rather than closer," with regards to nuclear talks.

"I hope that there isn't an overreaction by the United States to a space launch," Hanham told NPR.

north korea trump
US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un hold a meeting during the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 28, 2019. Satellite images suggest that North Korea may be preparing to launch a missile. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images