Washington remains open to further talks with Pyongyang despite reports of activity at one of North Korea’s key missile sites, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said Thursday.
Recent satellite imagery analysis from 38 North and the Center for Strategic and International Studies‘ Beyond Parallel program indicated the DPRK was rolling back dismantlement efforts at the Sohae Satellite Launching Center (SSLC) on North Korea’s west coast.
But Bolton said that Washington was still willing to talk with Pyongyang about denuclearization, though held back from making an assessment of the developments at Sohae.
“The president’s obviously open to talking again. We’ll see when that might be scheduled or how it might work out,” Trump told Fox News.
“We have a lot of ways of getting information. We’re going to study the situation carefully. As the president said, it would be very, very disappointing if they were taking this direction.”
Bolton echoed remarks from U.S. President Donald Trump made yesterday, who said Washington would look over the reports, adding he would be “very disappointed” with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un if the DPRK were undoing the dismantlement.
North Korea appeared to be dismantling the site following the Singapore Summit between Trump and Kim in June 2018, though 38 North reported the more recent changes may have occurred before the second, more recent meeting in Hanoi.
Washington and Pyongyang walked away from the negotiations in Vietnam without signing an agreement, with talks falling apart over sanctions and which nuclear sites the DPRK should give up.
While the agreement signed in Singapore did not include specific details about the Sohae testing site, the renewed work could violate UN resolutions and recent inter-Korean agreements.
“Pyongyang’s first written commitment concerning the SSLC—or Tongchang-ri—came on September 19, 2018, in the context of the inter-Korean Pyongyang Declaration,” Ankit Panda, adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists wrote for NK Pro.
“That document … committed North Korea to ‘permanently dismantle the Dongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch platform under the observation of experts from relevant countries.’”
Also on Thursday, North Korea signaled displeasure with scaled back joint U.S. – ROK military exercises via state media outlet the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
Although Washington and Seoul announced the move after the failed summit in Hanoi, North Korea took issue with the ongoing smaller drills, calling the exercises an “open challenge to the aspiration and desire of all Koreans and the international community for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
Featured image: Kremlin