Reports: North Korea Continued Building Nuclear and Missile Facilities in Summit Lead-Up

Recent reports suggest that North Korea was building facilities at a solid-fuel ballistic missile site in the lead-up to the U.S.-DPRK summit on June 12. On July 1, The Wall Street Journal reported that Planet Labs’ satellite “images analyzed by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Calif., show that North Korea was finishing construction on the exterior of the plant at around the time” of the summit. Time lapsed images reported by The Journal show a build-up of facilities in the weeks prior to the summit.

On June 30, The Diplomat revealed a U.S. intelligence report that “North Korea has continued to produce vehicles and support equipment for its Pukguksong-2/KN15 medium-range ballistic missile in 2018.” The Diplomat also notes, “Throughout 2018, U.S. military intelligence has also observed a marked reduction in vehicle movements across known North Korean ballistic missile operating areas, suggesting that the country has put in place restrictions on otherwise normal military movements as it has pursued diplomacy with South Korea and the United States.”

On June 30, The Washington Post also reported that “the DIA has concluded that North Korean officials are exploring ways to deceive Washington about the number of nuclear warheads and missiles, and the types and numbers of facilities they have, believing that the United States is not aware of the full range of their activities.”