N. Korea aiming to hide ongoing nuclear production

A Capital Gazette newspaper rack displays the day's front page on Friday

A Capital Gazette newspaper rack displays the day's front page on Friday

"The officials' assessments stand in stark contrast to that of US President Donald Trump, who declared following the June 12 summit with Kim that there is no longer a nuclear threat" from North Korea. Some aspects of the new intelligence were reported Friday by NBC News.

The Washington Post on Saturday cited unnamed us intelligence officials as concluding that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile.

Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, said he had heard from US and South Korea officials that Pompeo was expected to return to Pyongyang at the end of this week and that Sung Kim was working to prepare the way for that trip.

This line of thinking is far removed from Trump's triumphant declarations.

Despite Trump's rosy post-summit declaration that the North no longer poses a nuclear threat, Washington and Pyongyang have yet to negotiate the terms under which it would relinquish the weapons that it developed over decades to deter the U.S. While many of Trump's detractors celebrated the cooling of tensions that surrounds the current phase of diplomacy, few shared his optimism about the prospects of "denuclearization".

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However, Bolton said the USA does not yet have a full accounting of North Korea's nuclear arsenal.

"At the same time, North Korea hasn't even returned the prisoner of war remains that they said they were going to return", she continued. It is believed to have twice the uranium enrichment capacity of the lone enrichment facility acknowledged by Pyongyang.

The reports come on the heels of satellite images showing that North Korea is carrying out rapid improvements to its nuclear research facility.

While North Korea made a public show in June of demolishing the country's main nuclear weapons test site, there has been little public evidence of efforts to dismantle scores of other sites linked to production of nuclear and chemical weapons and delivery systems.

"There seems little reason to continue expansion plans if the regime meant to dismantle them as would be required under a denuclearization agreement", he continued.

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Trump administration officials are also less bullish than the president was.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he plans to meet with Kim to "flesh out" details of the nuclear disarmament promise, but has insisted the North Korean leader is serious.

The Financial Times reported that Pompeo hopes to visit Pyongyang in the second week of this month.

Meanwhile, Anthony Ruggiero, a former official at the State and Treasury departments and a North Korea expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, will start his job as director of North Korea issues on the National Security Council on Monday, the think tank's chief executive, Mark Dubowitz, said in a post on Twitter.

"There's not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this", he said. Trump feuded with G7 leaders during a summit in Canada last month over trade, abruptly dropping support for a routine joint statement.

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