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Trump promotes diplomatic gains, but North Korea continues to build missiles

WASHINGTON – President Trump has consistently promoted the results of his North Korean diplomacy, insisting since his meeting at the June summit with Kim Jong-un that Pyongyang is no longer a nuclear threat and noted that his missile tests have been arrested.

Like other White House foreign policy claims, reality has turned out to be more complicated.

North Korea has continued its work on missile and weapons programs since the leaders met, according to US officials, including the manufacture of new intercontinental ballistic missiles at a facility near Pyongyang, the capital, according to a Department official defense. And North Korea continues to produce nuclear fuel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told senators last week.

Mr. Kim has little interest in abandoning North Korea's nuclear arsenal or delaying its progress on the ICBM, according to experts who long studied the North Korean government and believe in its missile programs. Northern arms work, even at a facility that ICBM creates, has continued in the weeks following the summit meeting between Trump and Kim, said Jeffrey Lewis, an arms control expert at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey, California. .

US officials said they have not seen an increase in work in recent weeks, but have seen the programs move at the same pace as in previous months. In particular, work on one or two ICBMs in Sanumdong, a missile manufacturing facility outside Pyongyang, is consistent with the activity of the facility before the summit meeting, said the Defense Department official. The work on the new missiles was reported for the first time by The Washington Post.

Some officials of the Trump administration have been frustrated that North Korea has continued its arms work, deeming it a violation of the spirit of the agreement between Mr. Kim and Mr.. Trump.

But other US officials and outside experts said that North Korea should have been expected to continue working on its missile facilities because Kim made no explicit agreement to stop the manufacture of its missile or nuclear fuel systems. 19659002] "They are expanding everything," Lewis said. "And to be fair, they have never said they agreed to give up nuclear weapons," the South Koreans have said that the North Koreans have agreed to abandon nuclear weapons, and Trump has said that they have agreed to leave them, but they have never said so.

The great investment of the North in its nuclear program in recent years made it unlikely that it would undertake an abrupt change of marches, Lewis said. Since Kim came to power, there has been a steady increase in North Korea's investment in missile and nuclear weapons technology.

Mr. Trump has played the results of his meeting with Mr. Kim, by posting on Twitter after: "There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea." Since then, Mr. Trump has said that North Korea has made progress on the promises Mr. Kim made to him.

But the diplomacy between the two nations has stopped. Weeks after the summit meeting, North Korea accused the United States of of making "gangster-like" demands.

Mr. Pompeo is expected to try to strengthen the relationship by continuing diplomatic work with North Korea this week at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Singapore. State Department officials said the denuclearization will be discussed in a multinational environment, but did not reveal whether Mr. Pompeo and the North Korean officials would meet directly for the discussions.

Testifying before the Senate last week, Pompeo said that North Korea continues to manufacture "fissile material", essentially fuel for nuclear weapons.

Still, Mr. Pompeo echoed Mr. Trump, promoting North Korea's lack of missile tests and highlighting the dismantling of a missile engine test facility as evidence of Mr. Kim's commitment. While there is a long way to go with North Korea, Mr. Pompeo said that the work to close the engine testing facilities amounts to "steps forward".

The Democrats challenged Mr. Pompeo, saying that Pyongyang had only been spared an outdated facility. And external experts have questioned the insistence of Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo that diplomacy is on track and the threat of conflict has been substantially reduced.

The foreign policy of the Trump administration has been at odds with the president's pronouncements. [19659002] Sir. Trump said he won new spending allowances from European leaders in July, only to have allies against him making no additional pledges. And months after withdrawing from Iran's nuclear agreement, Trump said he would meet with Iranian leaders without preconditions. Hours later, however, Mr. Pompeo delineated several. But the proposal in any case was rejected by Iran.

On Russia, the president has insisted that he has pursued tough policies, although a Senate vote that imposed additional economic sanctions forced the administration's hand. Mr. Trump has repeatedly changed his position on his views on Russian interference in American democratic institutions, despite the fact that intelligence agencies constantly say that Moscow continues to meddle.

Regarding North Korea, academics have also questioned the true intentions of the government. New revelations have cast doubt on the progress of the Trump administration in stripping the country of its nuclear weapons.

Mr. Lewis said his organization has examined 40 images of the Sanumdong facility since January. They show that work continues in the facility that was used to develop ICBMs owned by North Korea that have the ability to attack the United States.

"They're still working," Lewis said. "You can not see it in the building, but it's a missile installation, and shipping containers keep showing up."

Bruce Klingner, senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation, said continued work on weapons programs is contrary to the "spirit of the summit."

However, Klingner said, North Korea agreed at the summit to only work for denuclearization, a weaker phrase than previous agreements involving Washington and Pyongyang. Commercial satellite photographs have shown that work on the missiles and nuclear sites continues and have shown Pyongyang's determination, for now, to maintain its nuclear program, he said.

"One would think that they would not continue or increase production if they are preparing to abandon these programs," Klingner said.

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