North Korea testing more rocket engines?
China’s foreign minister is pushing for the restart of international talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, saying that Pyongyang is ready to recommit to the goal of denuclearization.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Friday North Korea has recently said it is ready to come back to a 2005 commitment on giving up nuclear weapons and to an agreement it reached with the United States in February last year on freezing its nuclear programs in exchange for food aid. That agreement fell through soon after it was hatched because North Korea tested a long-range rocket.
The U.S. remains skeptical about Pyongyang’s intentions.
Meanwhile, 38 North, a blog run by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, suggests that North Korea more than likely tested a long-range rocket engine late last month, according to analysis of new satellite imagery over the site. From the photos released, indicators of a probable test are seen through the presence of a probable rocket stage, propellant tanks, as well as the appearance of burned vegetation around the launch stand.
“These are not in and of themselves indicators that there is going to be a rocket test six months from now,” Joel Wit, a former North Korea specialist at the State Department who is now with 38 North, told CNN about the photos. The Sohae launch facility, where the latest photos were taken, is the same facility from which North Korea has conducted previous rocket launches, including last December’s test.
In recent months, similar satellite imagery has shown what look to be other instances of rocket-engine tests by North Korea, as well as the resumption of production at a previously closed plutonium production site.