We reported earlier this year, following the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, in Singapore, that there was a strong likelihood that Kim misled Trump about his intentions. Now, evidence is emerging that demonstrates that Kim used the session as a photo op and as a stratagem to stall America and our allies while he continues development of his weapons program.
U.S. military intelligence has confirmed that scenario.
The Pentagon and the NSA are witnessing, via satellite and other interception of data, new missile construction.
This is taking place in a facility where North Korea previously built the rockets that exceeded the capabilities of previous missiles – ICBMs (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) with the range to deliver nuclear weapons to most of the United States including Washington D.C. and New York City.
In our previous report, we observed that North Korea at no time, made any firm commitments to “denuclearize”, yet Trump represented following the meeting that:
“Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”
In contradiction to Trump’s wildly speculative and premature claim that “There is no longer a Nuclear threat from North Korea”, Defense Department officials disclosed to the Washington Post that they have evidence that new-generation liquid fueled ICBMs are in production at the DPRK’s large research and development campus in Sanumdong.
This disclosure is by no means the only sign that Trump’s summit with Kim was nothing more than diplomatic theater. North Korea, even by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s admission in recent Senate testimony, is still enriching Uranium at an underground facility that spans the equivalent size of a football stadium in Kangson in North Korea’s Chollima-Guyok district, southwest of the capital.
North Korea conspires to deceive and mislead the United States and allies
Aside from continued weapons production and development, U.S. intelligence has also intercepted communications indicating the intent on the part of DPRK officials to mislead the U.S. on the precise status of their overall ballistic missile and weapons development programs including facilities and the quantity and type of weapons stockpiled.
One stratagem discussed by these top military officials is to disclose to the U.S. and the United Nations, a small number of weapons, destroying those and simultaneously secreting a larger remaining number. Also reported was their intention to stall and obstruct any international inspection process that might be established.
This is far from surprising, as there has been no less than a quarter of a century’s experience on the part of Western governments with these deliberate breaches.
The ongoing development of North Korea’s Hwasong-15 ICBM – with an established range allowing it to strike the East Coast of the U.S., was confirmed by images collected by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency within recent weeks. Of the activity at the Sanumdong plant, one analyst commented that, “We see them going to work, just as before.”
Trump promotes results of summit
Supporters of the administration were ecstatic to be able to report to the media and to Trump’s voters that a satellite launching platform – the Sohae Satellite Launching Station on North Korea’s west coast, was seen to have been in the process of dismantling. Trump, for his part, commented, “New images just today show that North Korea has begun the process of dismantling a key missile site, and we appreciate that.”
Meanwhile, despite Trump’s shallow optimism, seasoned intelligence experts warned the public not to place much stock in what turns out to be little more than a cleverly staged piece of theater. Ankit Panda, writing in The Diplomat, notes with regard to the partially dismantled static liquid-propellant engine vertical testing stand, that, “the concrete foundation pillars remain in place; only the metal superstructure, which accommodates the test engine units, has been dismantled. This would appear to leave the site in a relatively ‘reversible’ state of dismantlement.”
Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. posting on Global Research, in his analysis of satellite photos, while describing the process outlined above, notes curiously that, “In both images, the two newer fuel/oxidizer bunkers and vehicle garage remain untouched.” ‘Untouched’ meaning not part of the dismantling process.
Adam Mount, a senior fellow and director at the Federation of American Scientists says that the spectacles of partial dismantling, “are not themselves a major material step toward disarmament or militarily significant restrictions.” He further states, “Dismantling test infrastructure, especially for space launch vehicles, does not change this calculation. It’s also troubling that North Korea has apparently been allowed to dodge verification at both Punggye-ri and Sohae”.
It’s not unlike when people back in the day, came back into the U.S. and Mexico with a trunk full of Tequila and sheepishly admitted to one bottle they “forgot they had”, and cooperatively handed it over to customs officials. The trouble here, is the stakes are considerably higher and the consequences of proceeding with concessions based on unverified compliance are an exponential risk to ourselves and our allies in the region.
But all of this is rendered moot by the latest discoveries resulting from the surveillance by U.S. agencies monitoring North Korea’s weapons programs.
Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies told the Washington Post that analysis of satellite activity paints an alternative picture compared to that of the Trump administration’s preferred narrative.
He cites movements to and from the Sanumdong facility, clearly demonstrates that the missile production facility “is not dead, by any stretch of the imagination” – except, perhaps Trump’s stretch of the imagination, given the fact that he is known to disdain daily intelligence and national security briefings.
Another analyst at the James Martin Center, David Schmerler told the Wall Street Journal, “The expansion of production infrastructure for North Korea’s solid missile infrastructure probably suggests that Kim Jong Un does not intend to abandon his nuclear and missile programs.”
As to the activity at Kangson, it is really in no way inconsistent with the fact that Kim actually never committed to any specific plan of action beside vague agreements to “work toward” the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. A more realistic interpretation of those non-committal statements would be Kim and his government working toward denuclearization of the United States’ missile capabilities in defense of its allies.
“Sleep Well Tonight”?
Ken Gause, a North Korea expert at the Center for Naval Analysis, accurately notes that North Korea and Kim, “never agreed to give up their nuclear program. We have this backward. North Korea is not negotiating to give up their nuclear weapons,” Lewis said. “They are negotiating for recognition of their nuclear weapons. They’re willing to put up with certain limits, like no nuclear testing and no ICBM testing. What they’re offering is: They keep the bomb, but they stop talking about it.”
Despite the objections of some who argue that public disclosure of the fecklessness and routine deception of North Korea, might have the effect of derailing further diplomatic engagement, Bruce Klingner, a former CIA analyst and North Korea expert at the Heritage Foundation agrees with the other experts we’ve cited. “There seems little reason to continue expansion plans if the regime intended to dismantle them as would be required under a denuclearization agreement.”
Keep in mind, the Heritage Foundation have not been known to casually contradict Trump administration narratives on policy foreign or domestic. If they are parting company with Trump on this, you can assume that the idea of giving away the ranch, while Kim continues preparing nuclear missiles for potential deployment, is not a good one for us, for South Korea or for Japan.
All of this, including Secretary Pompeo’s reluctant admission that even in the best case scenario, implementation of any program to reduce or eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities could take years – renders Trump’s statements about “sleep well tonight” an absolute absurdity and a likely deception of his own.