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Trump still hopes for North Korea deal after ominous report

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    CORRECTS DATE OF IMAGE TO DEC. 5, 2018 - This Dec. 5, 2018 image provided by DigitalGlobe provided on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 shows a satellite image of North Korea’s Sohae facility. Satellite imagery showing new activity at a North Korean rocket launch site has raised doubt that Kim Jong Un will ever give up his nuclear weapons. U.S.-North Korea talks are continuing and President Donald Trump is still hoping to get a deal despite the failure of the two leaders’ second summit. Trump said Wednesday that he’d be unhappy if reports were true that Kim was rebuilding a launch site after promising in Vietnam to extend his current ban on nuclear and rocket tests. (DigitalGlobe via AP)

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    President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with former U.S. hostage in Yemen, Danny Burch, Wednesday, March 6, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Published March 07. 2019 07:12AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Satellite photos showing new activity at a North Korean rocket launch site raised fresh doubts Wednesday that Kim Jong Un will ever give up his drive for nuclear weapons, yet talks continue and President Donald Trump said he was still hoping for the agreement that eluded the leaders at last week’s summit.

The president said his relationship with the North Korean leader remains “good” even though Trump walked away from negotiations at their high-profile meeting in Vietnam. He said then that the North’s concessions on its nuclear program weren’t enough to warrant sanctions relief, and he said Wednesday he’d be unhappy if reports prove true that Kim is rebuilding a launch site after promising in Vietnam to extend his ban on nuclear and rocket tests.

“I would be very, very disappointed in Chairman Kim,” Trump said when reporters asked him about reports of new work at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station, which is tucked into the hills northwest of Pyongyang. “I don’t think I will be” disappointed, Trump said, “but we’ll see what happens.”

Past administrations discovered the perils of trying to do business with North Korea, which has a history of backing out of agreements. Trump believes his discussions will be different because Kim he has publicly announced his desire to focus on economic development in his reclusive nation, which is suffering under harsh U.S. and international sanctions.

Trump has favored direct talks with Kim, but with no third summit under discussion right now, the next stage of negotiations is likely to be conducted at lower levels. Trump’s envoy to North Korea, Steve Biegun, had lunch Wednesday at the State Department with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea. The South Koreans have proposed semiofficial three-way talks with the United States and North Korea as it works to put nuclear diplomacy back on track.

Suh Hoon, the director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, told his nation’s lawmakers in Seoul that North Korea was restoring facilities at a rocket launch site it had dismantled last year in a goodwill measure.

Meanwhile, 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies, said commercial satellite imagery indicates the rebuilding started between Feb. 16 and March 2. And the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, issued another report saying satellite imagery taken Saturday — just two days after the summit ended — showed North Korea “pursuing a rapid rebuilding” of the rocket site.

Some analysts think the work is a signal that Kim is getting ready to conduct more tests, but others suggest he’s just registering his disappointment that no agreement was reached at the summit. Trump himself added to the confusion, saying his administration had a hand in the report on Sohae being made public.

“It’s a very early report. We’re the ones that put it out,” Trump said without elaborating.

Joel Wit, a North Korea proliferation expert who helped negotiate with North Korea in the mid-1990s, said the new work at Sohae is Kim’s way of showing that he’s “getting impatient with lack of progress in negotiations.”

“We have to watch to see what else happens,” Wit said. “It’s a space launch facility and has been used to send satellites into space. ... Problem is, some of the technologies are the same.”

He said there is no evidence that North Korea’s work at the site signals Kim is preparing to test another intercontinental missile. He said North Korea has never tested an ICBM at Sohae. “Preparations for any launch would require a wide range of activities not observed at the site,” Wit said.

Trump and Kim, who also met in Singapore last year, have not said if there will be a third summit. For now, discussions with North Korea will be conducted by their subordinates. Biegun, the U.S. envoy to North Korea, gave members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a classified update Tuesday afternoon on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said that before any further summits between the leaders, there must be lower-level discussions to determine how far Kim is willing to go to denuclearize. That’s all the more important “to continue to test the North Koreans’ willingness now that they know they’re not going to get an easy deal,” Menendez said.

Committee Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said Biegun has a vision of where the U.S. wants to take the talks.

“He has clear knowledge of the steps that it takes to get there, and he’s laid that out for the North Koreans,” Risch said.

There’s no framework agreement “to put the details on it yet,” he said. But he added: “The differences have been narrowed.”

Less upbeat, Committee member Edward Markey, D-Mass., said the work at Sohae could be a sign that Kim is more interested in getting concessions from the U.S. than conducting good faith efforts to denuclearize. He said he’s also worried that future satellite launches at Sohae could help Kim further his work on ballistic missiles to threaten the U.S. and its allies with a nuclear attack.

“President Trump never codified in writing North Korea’s missile and nuclear testing freeze,” Markey said. “Without that formal commitment, North Korea might claim it is doing nothing wrong and derail the fragile diplomatic process under way.”

Comments
As Yogi Berra once said, “you can see a lot just by looking”
Trump has had a good look, and he's also established a way to resolve differences on the N.K. side that is favorable the U.S.
This favors us more than them. He's not approaching this on the sole basis of weapons control, but rather on economy. It's his roundabout. But the Media will intentionally stir a pot that need to be left to stew for now. You see folks, the media is our enemy, and the useful idiots bow down to the "Camera".
Do you help empower useful idiots? You better give this some thought. Nobody wants to find out they've been on the wrong side of history, after it's too late.
Peace

Get beyond the statement, and answer my question...
Do you support, or, are you, a useful idiot?
Your posts lean toward idiot, but, being that irritating troll, are you here... useful?
Hello?
Trump screwed up. He's too worried about his personal transgressions to be an effective leader. North Korea made an ass of Trump.
RUK, here we go again. You sit on a bench and criticize President Trump for his efforts on everything. President Trump never promised any results. You are blinded by hatred. You want America to fail. The truth is that President Trump is the first person to get Chairman Kim to the negotiation table. Missile testing was suspended. Deceased warriors from the Korean War were returned. Of course, not every wish of America’s was complied with. Negotiations are tenuous. There will be times when it is one step forward and then two steps backward. President Trump is a winner. He should get the Nobel Peace Prize. He doesn’t care about that though. He is a results based President. You RUK have Trump Derangement Syndrome. You consistently make an a** of yourself. You have no knowledge of what is going on behind the scenes. In fact, you seem to display no knowledge at all. You just wait and see. You would eat a share of humble pie...if you had any conscience. Keep it up! Trump is President...and you are not!
Irresponsible. Criminal. Stupid. LOSER. He's been duped. Face facts. Trump is a loser and laughing stock. Little Rocketman wins again.
What is irresponsible or criminal about diplomacy? Meeting with N Korea was the right thing to do. What international business/diplomacy experience do you have RUK? You are the lock minded loser. You have Trump Derangement Syndrome. President Trump owns you. You think about our great President Trump all the time. You can’t focus in the morning, and mistakenly put your underwear on backwards, because you hate President Trump. You pour coffee into your empty hand, because you forget to pick up a cup, all because you hate President Trump. Ha ha. You need nerve medication because President Trump lives in your little mind. You just wait. We are not sick of winning yet. MAGA!
Bill Clinton was duped, President Donald Trump has not concluded as of yet. As for laughing stock...
Cumback Kid
Mr Interned Harlem Hick
Willy the Weasel
The Great Pretender
Slick Willy
The Chief Sexecutive
El presidente del amor
Commander-in-briefs
I mean Bill Clinton brought International Shame to the Oval Orifice.
But then, there is no shame among Democrats.


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