Trump ‘surprised’ if Kim restarts nuclear testing as North Korea missile exercise detected

US President Donald Trump said he would be disappointed if North Korea was to resume nuclear testing as evidence grows they are preparing for just that.

Donald Trump said he had a “good” relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un despite the collapse last week of their second summit.

“I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters yesterday.

“I would be very disappointed if I saw testing.”

Trump’s comments came after two US think tanks and Seoul’s spy agency said this week that North Korea was rebuilding a rocket launch site at Sohae in the west of the country.

“I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding”

Donald Trump

There have also been reports from South Korea’s intelligence service of new activity at a factory at Sanumdong near Pyongyang that produced North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the US.

On Friday, US National Public Radio (NPR) quoted experts from California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies as saying that satellite images of Sanumdong taken on February 22.

It suggested North Korea could be preparing to launch a missile or a space rocket.

One of the experts, Jeffrey Lewis, said the activity at the two sites was “probably connected”. 

NPR said the February 22 photos showed cars, trucks, rail cars and two cranes at Sanumdong.

North Korea has frozen nuclear and missile testing since 2017, and Trump has pointed to this as a positive outcome from nearly a year of high-level engagement with the state.

Sohae has been used in the past to test missile engines and to launch rockets that US officials say have helped the development of North Korea’s weapons programmes.

Kim pledged at a first summit with Trump in Singapore in June that the engine test site and launch platform at Sohae would be dismantled. 

He repeated the pledge in a summit with the South Korean president in September.

Trump said he thought his and the US relationship with Kim and North Korea was “a very good one”.

“I think it remains good,” he said.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton and other US officials have sought to play down the developments spotted at Sohae.

Although Trump on Thursday called recent North Korean activity “disappointing”.

Pyongyang has used Sohae to launch satellites into space since 2011, and one such launch in April 2012 killed off an Obama administration deal for a freeze in North Korean nuclear and missile testing in return for food aid.

North Korean state media acknowledged the fruitless Hanoi summit for the first time on Friday, saying people were blaming the US for the lack of an agreement.

“The public at home and abroad that had hoped for success and good results from the second … summit in Hanoi are feeling regretful, blaming the US for the summit that ended without an agreement,” its Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

The paper directed fiery rhetoric against Japan, accusing it of being “desperate to interrupt” relations between Pyongyang and Washington and “applauding” the breakdown of the summit.

Washington has said it is open to more talks with North Korea.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful he would send a delegation to North Korea in the next couple of weeks, but had received “no commitment yet.”

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