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South Korea monitoring North for possible missile launch: Military

Muslim Times(Web Desk) – South Korea’s military has warned North Korea that it is closely monitoring its missile sites after media announced Pyongyang might be preparing for a long-range missile or space launch.

US news outlet NPR reported last week that North Korea may be planning a missile or space launch, based on satellite image analysis of a key facility near Pyongyang. 

We are “closely tracking and looking into all activity for possible scenarios including a missile launch” across the border in close coordination with the US, said Kim Joon-rak, spokesman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Monday

Satellite images of the Samundong missile research facility and the Sohae rocket-testing facility showed increased activity of cars and trucks at the sites as well as rail cars and cranes at a yard, the NPR reported.

“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, a researcher at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, was quoted as saying.

The Samundong facility located on the outskirts of Pyongyang was built in 2012 to support development of long-range missiles and space-launch vehicles.

As well as developing the Hawsong-15 ICBM, which analysts agree is capable of reaching the whole US mainland, Samundong constructed the long-range rockets that were then transported and successfully launched from the Sohae satellite launch station in 2012 and 2016.

Increased activities

At a summit with the South’s President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed last year to shutter the Sohae site.

In August last year, satellite pictures suggested workers were dismantling an engine test stand at the facility.

However, the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies suggested last week that rebuilding was progressing quickly at the facility.

A moving structure that had been used to carry vehicles to a launch pad on rails has been restored, the research website 38 North project claimed.

The group claimed work at the site was started before last month’s failed meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump on denuclearization in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Trump blamed the breakdown of talks on Kim, saying he was not ready to make the necessary concessions, and that the North Korean leader had asked for the removal of all the sanctions against his country.

Pyongyang later rejected the claims, saying Kim never put forward such a request.

The two leaders had first met in June 2018 in Singapore, where they agreed to work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang has taken several steps toward the goal by suspending missile and nuclear testing; however, the US has insisted that sanctions on the North must remain in place until it completely and irreversibly dismantles its nuclear program.

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