New images show North Korea's rocket site back to & # 39; normal operating status & # 39;

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By Courtney Kube

North Korea's Sohae long rocket area is now back to "normal operating status", according to new commercial images and analyzes from two teams of scientists, a reverse act of Kim Jong Un had taken after the first summit with President Donald Trump.

"These actions constitute a" snapback "from the moderate settlement conducted by the North Koreans at the Sohae launch facility after the Singapore Summit in June 2018," according to an analysis by Joseph Bermudez and Victor Cha of Beyond Parallel, funded a research project by the think tank center for strategic and international studies (CSIS).

The pictures taken on March 6 show activity that "speaks to the ease with which [North Korea] can reverse steps that can accept denuclearisation in the future, "wrote Bermudez and Cha.

A team of researchers from 38 North, affiliated with The Stimson Center in Washington D.C., arrived at the same conclusion that the Sohae plant "appears to have returned to normal operational status."

Commercial satellite images acquired on March 6, 2019 show that North Korea has continued to rebuild the key components of the Sohae Launch Facility, including the vertical engine stand.CSIS

The new analyzes come two days after the delivery of Beyond Parallel commercial pictures for NBC News that it said North Korea is pursuing the rapid reconstruction of the Sohae Launch Facility.

The activity was photographed on March 2, according to the researchers, less than 48 hours after the Trump-Kim Vietnam Summit broke down.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the new images. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders declined comment when he was asked on Tuesday about the previous batch of photos and said "we are not commenting on intelligence."

On Wednesday, Trump said he would be "very disappointed" if North Korea rebuilds the Sohae plant, but stressed that "the relationship is good".

The president has repeatedly used the fact that North Korea has not launched a missile since late 2017 as a sign that the diplomatic process is working.

After Trump and Kim gave lectures in Singapore in June of June, Trump said North Korea agreed to destroy a missile engine test site, even though it was not part of the final summit statement.

Trump said at a press conference after the summit: "They made commitments to destroy the missile engine's test site. It wasn't in your deal. I got it when we signed the deal. I said," Do me a favor. You have this test site for missile engines. We know where it is because of the heat. "It's amazing the equipment we have, to be honest with you. I said," Can you shut it up? "He must close it up."

Several weeks after the summit, North Korea dismantled some parts of the Sohae launch site, but according to both Beyond Parallel and 38 North, the dismantling is reversed.

The new picture shows that the North Koreans have assembled the vertical engine test, railway transfer structure and fuel / oxidizer stacks, Bermudez and Cha wrote.

"The reconstruction activities at Sohae demonstrate how fast North Korea can easily make reversible any move towards scraping it [weapons of mass destruction] program with a little hesitation. This poses challenges to US goals for final, irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation, "the researchers said.

The vertical engine test stand "has been rebuilt" and there is evidence of the construction of a new environmental cabin on the entrance, which "could indicate intentional preparation to test rocket engines again."

The rail-mounted transfer structure has also been rebuilt and "moved back to its normal location." This structure is used to move rockets to and from the processing tower.

Although there is no sign of a missile on the spot, Bermudez and Cha noted that "The umbilical beams opened four days ago to show the launch and no rocket is present have been closed."

In their analysis, researchers at 38 North said that the images show that "the construction to rebuild the launch pad and the engine stand that began before the Hanoi Summit continued at a rapid pace."