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Satellite Images Show North Korea Dismantling Ballistic Missile Facility

A combination of two satellite images taken on June 22, 2018 (top) and July 22, 2018 show activity at the Sohae rocket launch site in North Korea. Planet Labs Inc/Handout via REUTERS

Satellite images indicate North Korea has begun dismantling key facilities at a site used to develop engines for ballistic missiles, in a first step toward fulfilling a pledge made to U.S. President Donald Trump, a Washington think tank said on July 23.

The recent images show work at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station to dismantle a building used to assemble space-launch vehicles and a nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles, the 38 North think tank said.

"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," it said in a report.

Trump told a news conference after a June 12 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that Kim had promised to destroy "very soon" a major missile engine testing site.

Trump did not identify the site, but a U.S. official subsequently told Reuters that it was Sohae.

The 38 North report comes amid growing questions about North Korea's willingness to live up to the commitments Kim made at the summit, particularly to work towards denuclearization.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters