WASHINGTON — U.S. spy agencies suspect that North Korea is building new missiles in the same research facility that manufactured the country’s ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, according to a recent report by The Washington Post, which cited officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to describe classified intelligence.
These officials say new evidence, including satellite photos taken in recent weeks, suggests that work is underway on at least one and possibly two liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles at a research facility in Sanumdong on the outskirts of Pyongyang.
The report casts further doubt on President Donald Trump’s claims of victory last month in disarmament talks with North Korea. After the president met with Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un in a high-profile summit, Trump declared on Twitter “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday played down the significance of the Post report.
"It suggests that this is a process," she told Fox News of U.S. efforts to denuclearize North Korea. "Things don't change overnight," Conway later added.
Trump asserted last week that his administration's plan to dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons is "going very well." Trump made his remarks after the North Korea-focused 38 North website released recent satellite imagery that seems to show dismantlement underway at Sohae.
But his comment seemed at odds with his own secretary of state, Mike Pompeo who said any such step would have to be confirmed by international inspectors and that North Korea continued to produce fuel for nuclear weapons despite Kim's pledge to denuclearize. Pompeo said there was "an awful long way to go" before North Korea could no longer be viewed as a nuclear threat.
According to the Post, U.S. officials suspect that North Korea’s strategy is possibly to assert that they have fully denuclearized by declaring and disposing of 20 warheads while retaining dozens more.