U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded North Korea is attempting to secretly make more nuclear fuel suitable for weapons despite the Singapore Summit earlier this month. The conclusions appear in an intelligence assessment which was first reported Friday by NBC News:
In recent months, even as the two sides engaged in diplomacy, North Korea was stepping up its production of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, five U.S. officials say, citing the latest intelligence assessment. North Korea and the U.S. agreed at the summit to “work toward” denuclearization, but there is no specific deal. On Trump’s order, the U.S. military canceled training exercises on the Korean peninsula, a major concession to Kim.
While the North Koreans have stopped missile and nuclear tests, “there’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” said one U.S. official briefed on the latest intelligence. “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S.”
Four other officials familiar with the intelligence assessment also said North Korea intended to deceive the U.S.
NBC did speak to one unnamed source who felt North Korea’s decision to stop missile testing was an unexpected step in the right direction, but even he agreed North Korea seemed to be trying to deceive the U.S. The assessment also says North Korea has several undeclared nuclear sites in addition to the one they do acknowledge at Yongbyon.
Tuesday, a site called 38North, which covers North Korea, published an analysis of satellite imagery which concluded Yongbyon is undergoing infrastructure improvements at a “rapid pace.” The analysis does add that “The North’s nuclear cadre can be expected to proceed with business as usual until specific orders are issued from Pyongyang.” In other words, until a denuclearization deal is reached, this will continue.
It’s looking like North Korea is once again looking for some sort of payout. The moment it gets it, we can probably bet it will return to its belligerent behavior once again. The question is whether President Trump is going to acknowledge this. More importantly, even if he does acknowledge it, what can do about it?
Maybe the answer is nothing. What kind of rational deal can you really expect with a person who punishes his own military for eating too much? From Fox News:
Daily NK reported that Hyon Ju Song, the lieutenant general of the Korean People’s Army in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, was executed by a firing squad for “charges of abusing authority and engaging in anti-Party acts.”…
The source said Hyon ordered “2,000 pounds of fuel, 1,300 pounds of rice, and 1,600 pounds of corn to military officers at the Launching Station and their families.”
“This was considered an anti-Party act violating the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the Party’s One-Ideology System,” the source said.
Kim reportedly said of the execution, “We must nip the bud of ideological poisoning.” You can’t reason with that. If NBC’s report on this new intelligence assessment is accurate, it’s time to ask North Korea to come clean or forget it. Better no deal than another bad deal.