UPDATE : 2018.11.17 SAT 17:21
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N. Korea begins dismantling missile engine test site: 38 North

North Korea has begun to dismantle a missile engine testing site in line with a promise made by its leader, Kim Jong-un, at his historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, a website monitoring the regime said Monday.

According to 38 North, new satellite imagery from July 20 shows key facilities being dismantled at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the country's main such location since 2012.

The facilities include a rail-mounted processing building, which is used to assemble space launch vehicles before they are moved to the launch pad. Also being dismantled is a rocket engine test stand that has been used to build liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles, the article said.

"Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North's intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence building measure on the part of North Korea," it said, adding that the work probably began sometime within the past two weeks.

An intelligence source in Seoul said that the North appears to have partially disassembled a tower crane at the Sohae station.

"We have detected circumstances under which the North partially disassembled the tower crane erected at the launch pad on July 20 and 22," the source said on condition of anonymity.

A government official here pointed out that Seoul is carefully watching the situation to see if the move is part of efforts to deliver on last month's summit agreement with Trump.

Had the North begun the disassembling process in earnest, it can be seen as an action to maintain the momentum for dialogue with the U.S., the official said, declining to be identified.

Trump announced after his summit with Kim in Singapore that the North Korean leader had agreed to destroy a missile engine testing site.

38 North's analysis comes as progress has reportedly been slow to implement the leaders' joint statement in which Kim committed to the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S. (yonhap)

Hillary Kang  edt@koreapost.com

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