all eyes on north korea
May 30, 2019

After his February summit with President Trump ended early and without a deal, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un launched an internal government purge, executing five top officials, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reports.

He blamed the Hanoi summit's collapse on Kim Hyok Chol, special envoy to the United States, and four other foreign ministry officials who carried out working-level negotiations, a person with knowledge of the matter told Chosun Ilbo. The officials were all accused of spying for the United States, and executed by a firing squad in March.

The newspaper also reports Kim's top aide, Kim Yong Chol, is being forced to do hard labor, and other officials have been sent to internment camps for political prisoners. Catherine Garcia

April 19, 2019

The Kremlin announced Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a summit later this month.

The news marked the latest indication that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pivoted toward Russia since the February collapse of his second summit with President Trump without a deal on denuclearization and the lifting of U.S. sanctions. A day earlier, North Korea test-fired a new tactical guided weapon, the isolated Communist regime's first public weapon test since Kim's first summit with Trump last year.

Russia said Putin invited Kim. Russian media said Putin would meet Kim in Vladivostok on Russia's Pacific coast as Putin heads to a summit in Beijing. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Harold Maass

April 17, 2019

North Korea has test-fired a "new tactical guided weapon," the state-run news agency KCNA announced Wednesday.

The test was directed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who declared that "the development and completion of this weapons system will be a great historic event in strengthening the combat capability of the People's Army," KCNA said. The news agency did not elaborate on the type of weapon that was tested or its possible range. North Korea held its last tactical weapons test in November.

Defense Department officials told CNN that the U.S. Northern Command and Strategic Command did not detect any missile launch. The test comes two months after nuclear talks stalled between Kim and President Trump. Catherine Garcia

April 11, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday said his country's economy is becoming more self-sufficient, proof that "hostile forces" are "miscalculating" that sanctions will bring North Korea "to its knees."

The country's state-run media quoted Kim as saying North Korea must "deal a telling blow to the hostile forces," but he did not call out any specific nations. During the February summit in Hanoi between Kim and President Trump, talks collapsed after Kim was unwilling to pull back enough on nuclear testing and the U.S. wouldn't budge on sanctions.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has been more open to the idea of easing sanctions than the U.S., will visit Trump Thursday in Washington, and they will discuss North Korea. The economy has clearly been on Kim's mind this week, as state media has shown him visiting several projects, including a resort and renovated department store, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

March 5, 2019

Satellite photos taken on March 2, two days after President Trump's summit in Hanoi with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, show that the country is "rapidly rebuilding" the long-range rocket site at its Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the only operational space launch facility in North Korea, NBC News reports.

The images and analysis came from researchers at Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who say space launches and intercontinental ballistic missile launches use similar technology. One of the report's authors, Victor Cha, said activity is "evident at the vertical engine test stand and the launch pad's rail-mounted rocket transfer structure. The activity they are undertaking now is consistent with preparations for a test, though the imagery thus far does not show a missile being moved to the launch pad."

Following the first summit between Trump and Kim in 2018, some facilities at Sohae were dismantled, and Beyond Parallel analysts determined the facility "has been dormant since August 2018, indicating the current activity is deliberate and purposeful." Other researchers have said work never stopped at the facility, with low-level activity seen in October, NBC News reports.

Earlier this year, Beyond Parallel revealed satellite images taken in late December show North Korea has as many as 20 undisclosed missile sites scattered across the country. Catherine Garcia

January 21, 2019

Researchers have found an undisclosed ballistic missile base in North Korea, and say there could be as many as 20 secret bases across the country.

Beyond Parallel, a project sponsored by the defense think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, released a report on Monday that revealed the existence of the Sino-ri Missile Operating Base, 130 miles north of the DMZ. Satellite photos of the base taken in late December show an entrance to an underground bunker, hardened shelters, and the headquarters of the Korean People's Army Strategic Rocket Forces missile brigade. Beyond Parallel says the base has been crucial in the development of ballistic missiles able to reach Japan, South Korea, and Guam.

In February, the U.S. and North Korea will meet for a second nuclear summit, and one of the report's authors, Victor Cha, told NBC News the North Koreans are "not going to negotiate over things they don't disclose." Even if North Korea agreed to dismantle all nuclear facilities that have been disclosed to the United States, "they're still going to have all this operational capability," Cha added. Catherine Garcia

December 6, 2018

New satellite images show that North Korea is expanding a missile base in a remote area near the Chinese border, and researchers say it's likely being used to house long-range missiles.

The images of Yeongjeo-dong show there has been construction not only at the existing facility, but also at a second site about seven miles away, NPR reports. The imagery was analyzed at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, and senior research associate Catherine Dill said Pyongyang is "constructing hardened drive-through shelters for the vehicles that would carry long-range missiles, and they are also constructing tunnel entrances."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may have told President Trump during their meeting this June that he wanted to work toward denuclearization, but the images paint a different picture. "They started construction before the Singapore summit and they've continued it since then," Dill said. Catherine Garcia

September 19, 2018

In a joint statement released Wednesday after their two-day meeting in Pyongyang, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to establish buffer zones along land and sea borders and create a joint military committee that will work to ease tensions and prevent any accidental clashes.

Moon said Kim agreed to let international experts watch as North Korea permanently dismantles a missile engine test site and launch pad, and said if the United States takes corresponding measures, he will take additional steps toward denuclearization, including shutting down North Korea's main nuclear complex.

The two Koreas have also agreed to cooperate in sports events, like the 2020 Summer Olympics, and will try to get the rights to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics. Kim vowed to visit Seoul "in the near future," and if he does make the trip, he will become the first North Korean leader to visit since the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945, The Associated Press reports. Catherine Garcia

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