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A South Korean adviser warned Tuesday that North Korea risks “catastrophic” consequences for diplomacy efforts if they use the threat of a possible rocket launch as a bargaining chip with the United States.
Moon Chung-In, a retired professor and current special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-In, said in a Seoul panel discussion that global diplomacy efforts on North Korea’s nuclear program would be thrown into shambles if they attempted to use a launch as leverage.
“I wonder if North Korea should avoid” making this type of threat, said Moon Chung-In, adding that such a move could cause a “big disaster” in U.S.-North Korean diplomacy.
Several organizations, including European-based Airbus Defence and Space and U.S.-based 38 North, released satellite imaging captured on Wednesday that show a restored rocket launch site that was previously dismantled as part of a disarmament agreement between the United States and North Korea in 2018.
U.S. officials were pursuing access to inspect the site in response to the photos which, when captured, showed the development just a week after President Trump and Kim Jong Un met for a denuclearization summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Additional satellite photographs showed activity at a second North Korean manufacturing plant where rockets and satellites are produced for launch.
The Hanoi summit in late February demonstrated how “difficult” and “painful” it is to settle on a denuclearization agreement, said Moon Chung-In, adding that the United States and North Korea must both practice restraint to salvage diplomatic relations.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry also expressed concern about activity at the rocket-launch site and said Tuesday both they and the United States are keeping close surveillance on the area.
“We hope the North side will make a wise decision … which would benefit all,” said ministry spokesman Kim In-chul.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said last Tuesday to Fox Business that North Korea could face even stricter sanctions if they do no dismantle their nuclear program.
“If they’re not willing to do it, President Trump has been very clear they’re not getting relief from the crushing economic sanctions that have been imposed on them,” Bolton said. “And we’ll look at ramping those sanctions up, in fact.”
Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis and The Associated Press contributed to this report.