Trump says new images show North Korea has begun dismantling ‘key missile site’

Updated 5:17 PM EDT, Tue July 24, 2018
Airbus Defense and Space
Now playing
01:44
New images show N. Korea dismantling test site
Nicolas Asfouri/Pool/Getty Images/AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS
Now playing
01:27
North, South Korean leaders to meet again
CNNI
Now playing
00:40
Pompeo dismisses N. Korea's 'gangster' comments
SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea's nuclear program. (Photo by Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES/Handout/Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
SINGAPORE - JUNE 12: In this handout photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during their historic U.S.-DPRK summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. U.S. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held the historic meeting between leaders of both countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, carrying hopes to end decades of hostility and the threat of North Korea's nuclear program. (Photo by Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES/Handout/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:56
Kim Jong Un snubbed Mike Pompeo, source says
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09:  National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House, on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Yesterday President Donald Trump announced that America was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks on a morning television show from the grounds of the White House, on May 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Yesterday President Donald Trump announced that America was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:34
Bolton: US has plan for denuclearizing N. Korea
Planet Labs Inc.
Now playing
01:25
Satellite images show missile plant construction
CNN
Now playing
01:14
Susan Rice: Kim Jong Un beat Trump at summit
Images of the Norrth Korea missile launch on November 28 taken from Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's official newspaper.
From Rodong Sinmun
Images of the Norrth Korea missile launch on November 28 taken from Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's official newspaper.
Now playing
02:14
Will North Korea restart nuclear tests?
Photo Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
03:00
Will Kim Jong Un ever give up his nukes?
Photo Illustration/Getty Images
Now playing
02:27
What's bringing Kim Jong Un to the table
Now playing
01:51
Who is Kim Jong Un?
CNN
Now playing
01:43
Connolly: Trump comment on Kim 'jaw-dropping'
Now playing
02:31
Moon: The masterful dealmaker
Trump Kim Jong Un comment 04240218
CNN
Trump Kim Jong Un comment 04240218
Now playing
01:26
Trump: Kim Jong Un very open and honorable
Now playing
03:06
Finding art on the edge of the DMZ
(CNN) —  

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that new images indicate North Korea has begun dismantling “a key missile site” – a step he says was promised by dictator Kim Jong Un after the two leaders met in Singapore last month.

“New images just today show that North Korea has begun the process of dismantling a key missile site, and we appreciate that,” Trump said, an apparent reference to images of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station published Monday by the prominent monitoring group 38 North.

Those images, captured between July 20 and July 22, show North Korea has indeed started to dismantle key facilities at the satellite launch station, a move analysts said represents “an important first step towards fulfilling a commitment” made by Kim during his summit with Trump.

“Since these facilities are believed to have played an important role in the development of technologies for the North’s intercontinental ballistic missile program, these efforts represent a significant confidence-building measure on the part of North Korea,” according to 38 North’s Joseph Bermudez Jr.

“Most notably, these include the rail-mounted processing building – where space launch vehicles are assembled before moving them to the launchpad – and the nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said Tuesday that reports of missile engine test facility dismantlement in North Korea are “entirely consistent” with the commitment Kim made to Trump in Singapore, and the US has pushed for inspectors to be present.

Asked about furthers steps North Korea should take, Pompeo said, “They need to completely, fully de-nuclearize. That’s the steps that Chairman Kim committed to and that the world has demanded through UN Security Council resolutions. It’s that straightforward.”

Both Trump and Pompeo, have been urging patience since the President held a historic summit with Kim in Singapore last month but the President has privately expressed frustration over the perceived lack of progress in talks, a US official told CNN.

Trump pushed back against that suggestion Monday, tweeting that he is “very happy” with the progress with North Korea, noting a lack of rocket launches and nuclear tests in recent months.

Adam Mount, a senior fellow and director at the Federation of American Scientists, agreed that these steps “are encouraging and helpful for extending talks” but noted they “are not themselves a major material step toward disarmament or militarily significant restrictions.”

“This is consistent with North Korea’s public line, which is that its successful test program is now transitioning to mass production of nuclear and missile systems,” he said.

“Dismantling test infrastructure, especially for space launch vehicles, does not change this calculation. It’s also troubling that North Korea has apparently been allowed to dodge verification at both Punggye-ri and Sohae. That will have to be fixed for subsequent agreements,” Mount added.

And while Monday’s images may amount to a “confidence building measure” by the North Koreans, it appears that they expect the US to reciprocate if talks are to continue.

CNN reported on Monday that continued negotiations between the two sides hinge on Washington’s willingness to make a “bold move” and agree to a peace treaty with Pyongyang, according to an official with close knowledge of North Korea’s position on the matter.

If the US is unwilling to replace the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War with a permanent peace that would ensure the survival of Kim’s regime, Pyongyang will likely not proceed further with denuclearization talks, the source said.

Meanwhile, US Democrats in Congress remain largely in the dark on the administration’s plans with regards to a path forward with North Korea and skepticism over Kim’s intentions.

Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez told CNN on Monday he hopes Pompeo can provide answers when he testifies on Capitol Hill this week.

“We all want diplomacy to succeed, so I am interested to hear more from Secretary Pompeo this Wednesday on his views on this development – and if he considers this to be significant,” the New Jersey Democrat said in reference to the images published Monday.

“The fact of the matter is that last year, on President Trump’s watch, North Korea made significant advances in its ballistic missile technology, achieving what many experts agree is a nuclear-capable operational ICBM,” Menendez added.

“I want to hear from the secretary how and if this action by North Korea is integrated into a cogent and coherent diplomatic framework that gets us to complete and verifiable dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs,” he told CNN.

CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, Laura Koran, Kevin Liptak and Will Ripley contributed to this report.