North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered a “higher modernization plan” for the country’s main ballistic missile factory during a visit to several facilities and factories, shortly after he suspended denuclearization talks with the United States.
The North’s official news agency KCNA reported on Saturday that Kim visited several factories that were used to build ballistic missile launchers and other weapons. The report did not specify when the visits took place.
Among the sites Kim visited was the site the so-called February 8 General Machine Factory, which Pyongyang has used to manufacture launchers for ballistic missiles.
The machine factory was also the site of a July 28, 2017 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch personally observed by Kim.
“Even though the factory has made remarkable progress as against the past, we should not be contented with this,” the leader was quoted by KCNA as saying.
A researcher at the US-based James Martin Center for nonproliferation studies (CNS) described the site as “the heart of North Korea’s defense industry.”
“These are the kind of visits we saw in 2016 and 2017 as North Korea moved toward ICBM testing,” researcher Jeffrey Lewis told Reuters.
Back in January CNS listed the plant in a report as one of several sites visited by the North Korean leader in the past.
Pyongyang has not fully disclosed the location or the purpose of the site, according to Lewis.
The development came after Kim declared last month that he suspended the denuclearization talks with Washington until it changes its “arbitrary and dishonest” stance.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton has ruled out a change of position.
At the same time, he called for the military to boost its strike capability and “keep full combat posture to cope with any emergency.”
The call for “full combat posture” came a day after he observed the test fire of two long-range ballistic weapons that were initially presumed to be short range missiles.
Pyongyang had put a halt on its missiles and nuclear test launches, shortly before a diplomatic thaw began between Pyongyang and Seoul and led to the first ever summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore last June.
The halt was among a number of other that Pyongyang has taken to move forward in denuclearization negotiations with the US, but the talks have made little progress, mainly because Washington refuses to lift its harsh sanctions on North Korea.
In February, Trump and Kim met for a second time at a summit in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, but the meeting broke up without an agreement or even a joint statement.
The North had warned before that it was considering ending talks on denuclearization and resuming nuclear and missile tests over “the gangster-like stand” of the US.
Iran Press TV
Sat Jun 1, 2019
The 21st Century