24 Jul 2018

Satellite images suggest North Korea dismantling key rocket launch site

3:04 pm on 24 July 2018

A US-based monitoring group says North Korea appears to have begun dismantling part of a key rocket launch site.

The rocket launch shown on North Korean TV.

A rocket launch from Sohae space centre in 2016, shown on North Korean TV. Photo: AFP / Yonhap / North Korean TV

North Korea appears to have begun dismantling part of a key rocket launch site in the country's north-west.

Satellite images of the Sohae station seen by US-based monitoring group 38 North suggest Pyongyang is complying with a promise made to the US in June.

US President Donald Trump said North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un had vowed at their meeting in Singapore to destroy an engine test site, but did not specify which one.

Pyongyang has maintained Sohae is a satellite launch site, but US officials suspect it has been used to test ballistic missiles.

A report in The Washington Post at the weekend said in spite of positive assessments Mr Trump has given on progress with North Korea, he has vented anger at aides over a lack of immediate progress.

However, Mr Trump today said he was "very happy" with the progress in relations with North Korea, saying Pyongyang had not launched any missiles or carried out any nuclear tests during the last nine months.

North Korea has carried out a total of six nuclear tests, the most recent in September 2017.

US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un participate in a signing ceremony as part of the US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un at their summit in Singapore Photo: AFP / 2018 Anadolu Agency

During the landmark meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore last month, the two leaders signed a deal to work towards the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

But the deal was criticised for a lack of details on when or how Pyongyang would renounce its nuclear weapons.

US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said last week it was technically possible for North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons program within a year, but also said that was not likely to happen.

- BBC / Reuters