Trump administration: North Korea missile moves don't undermine peace push

The North Korea flag flutters next to concertina wire at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur

Monday's report, citing intelligence gathered by USA spy agencies and unidentified officials, also said there were signs that North Korea is continuing to construct at least one, and possibly two, liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States.

North Korea's intention was to deceive the U.S.by misconstruing the number of warheads as well as research facilities they have, while claiming they have fully denuclearized, the Post reported, citing intelligence.

And new satellite imagery from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station on North Korea's west coast suggests workers are dismantling an engine test stand, in line with a promise made to Trump.

"Work on the new missile likely began after the summit", one source told The Diplomat, referring to the June 12 meeting between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday played down the significance of the Post report.

North Korea "is in the room as a member of the ASEAN regional forum among these 27 countries, so there will be discussions that are inclusive of North Korea", a senior State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Things don't change overnight", Conway later added. Mr Trump later said North Korea was "no longer a nuclear threat".

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The North demonstrated sharp progress in its program a year ago when it test-fired numerous missiles and conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

Pentagon officials said they would not comment on intelligence matters, though the leaked assessment comes after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly said last week that Pyongyang is still making nuclear fissile material.

"Pompeo shall gain nothing substantive other than North Korea's amenability to further talks about talks", he said.

These are not the first reports that North Korea may be continuing its weapons programme, casting doubt on the real impact of the summit in Singapore.

"There are chance encounters, there are sometimes planned encounters - but we're not there yet for any announcement", the official said.

Efforts to recover remains in North Korea have been fraught with political and other obstacles since the war's end.

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A soldier carries a casket containing the remains of a USA soldier who was killed in the Korean War during a ceremony at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018.

North Korea is also reportedly still secretly operating the Kangson uranium-enrichment facility.

Trump's remark at a political rally Wednesday in Tampa, Florida, was the latest sign of friction between the USA and North Korea, as they attempt to implement on Kim's June 12 agreement to "work toward complete denuclearisation". The North had pursued its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions and increasingly severe sanctions.

About 7,700 US soldiers are listed as missing from the 1950-53 Korean War and about 5,300 of the remains are believed to still be in North Korea.

But even if he does, Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korea expert at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, was sceptical that there would be any fresh signs of progress when it came to denuclearisation.

Lieutenant-General Ahn Ik San, who is leading the North Korean delegation at the military talks, noted South Korean news reports suggesting he might try to persuade the South to push for a joint declaration with the USA to formally end the war.

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