N. Korea rebuilds part of missile site as US warns of more sanctions
US National Security Adviser warns of more sanctions
WASHINGTON North Korea has restored part of a rocket test site it began to dismantle after pledging to do so in a first summit with US President Donald Trump last year, while his national security adviser warned that new sanctions could be introduced if Pyongyang did not scrap its nuclear weapons programme.
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency and two US think-tanks reported on Tuesday that work was under way at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in North Korea, even as Mr Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a second summit in Hanoi last week.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday that Washington would see whether Pyongyang was committed to giving up its "nuclear weapons programme and everything associated with it".
"If they're not willing to do it, then I think President Trump has been clear... they're not going to get relief from the crushing economic sanctions that have been imposed on them and we'll look at ramping those sanctions up," said Mr Bolton, a hardliner who has advocated a tough approach to North Korea.
Two US senators sought to dial up pressure on North Korea by reintroducing a Bill to impose sanctions on any bank that does business with its government.
Satellite images seen by 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea project, showed that structures on the Sohae launch pad had been rebuilt sometime between Feb 16 and March 2, said Ms Jenny Town, managing editor at the project and an analyst at the Stimson Centre think-tank.
The Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released a report that concluded North Korea is "pursuing a rapid rebuilding" at the site.
"Activity is evident at the vertical engine test stand and the launch pad's rail-mounted rocket transfer structure," the CSIS report said.
"Significantly, the environmental shelters on the umbilical tower, which are normally closed, have been opened to show the launch pad."
A US government source said the South Korean intelligence agency cited by Yonhap was considered reliable on such issues, but said the work described did not seem particularly alarming.
Analysts cautioned that the site has never been used to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile and there is no evidence to suggest a test is imminent, but the site has been used to test missile engines and past satellite launches have helped scuttle talks with the US.
Mr Kim pledged at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in September to close Sohae.
Signs that North Korea had begun dismantling a building at Sohae were detected in July.
However, subsequent images showed the North had halted work to dismantle the missile engine test site in August.- REUTERS