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N. Korea apparently halted dismantling of launch site: US group

This July 22, 2018, satellite image released and annotated by 38 North on July 23, shows what the U.S. research group says is the partial dismantling of the rail-mounted transfer structure, at center, at the Sohae launch site in North Korea. (Airbus Defense & Space/38 North via AP)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- North Korea appears to have halted dismantling work at a missile engine testing site in the country's northwest, a U.S. research group said Wednesday in an analysis based on new satellite imagery.

According to 38 North, a group that monitors North Korea, imagery taken on Aug. 16 of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri indicates "no significant dismantlement activity" has taken place at either the engine test stand or the launch pad since Aug. 3.

The analysis underscored Pyongyang's perceived reluctance to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles despite leader Kim Jong Un's commitment to "complete" denuclearization in a historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June in Singapore.

"At the vertical engine test stand, while significant progress in tearing down the facility was made from July to early August, no new dismantlement activity is apparent since Aug. 3," the group said.

The components previously removed remain stacked on the ground, it said.

Speaking at a post-summit news conference in Singapore, Trump said Kim promised that Pyongyang would destroy a major missile engine testing site soon, in an apparent reference to Sohae.

The engine test stand at Sohae has been used to test large liquid-fueled rocket engines, applicable to both intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States and large space launch vehicles.

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