North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: KCNA via AFP

Improvements to the infrastructure at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear research center are continuing “at a rapid pace,” according to an analysis of recent satellite imagery.

The report, released by North Korea specialist website 38 North, was widely covered in the media, with headlines suggesting that Kim Jong-un was not making good on a pledge made when he met with US President Donald Trump to “work towards” denuclearization.

The 38 North Analysts, however, were clear in their assessment that “Continued work at the Yongbyon facility should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize. The North’s nuclear cadre can be expected to proceed with business as usual until specific orders are issued from Pyongyang.”

While North Korea and the United States agreed in principle on working towards denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, details have not been finalized.

Pompeo heads back to Pyongyang
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is going to visit North Korea for the third time this year next week, The Financial Times reported Thursday, to hold follow-up talks on the denuclearization agreement. He had to cancel a planned meeting with his Indian counterpart in order to make the trip.

The diplomat has previously had success in his travels to Pyongyang, securing the release of US prisoners in May. Pinning down specific pledges by North Korea to dismantle weapons programs will likely prove to be a significant challenge, many analysts say, pointing to the failure of previous deals to provide sufficient detail and verification requirements.

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