North Korea appears poised to conduct new missile or rockets tests after satellite imagery showed renewed activity at a missile factory and a known launch site.
Experts at California's Middlebury Institute of International Studies say that satellite images of the Sanumdong rocket factory taken on February 22 and other images from last Friday suggested North Korea could be preparing to launch a missile or a space rocket.
The threat of renewed tests emerged amid reports of minor acts of defiance against the North Korean regime ahead of sham elections today [SUN] for deputies for all 687 seats in the Supreme People’s Assembly.
The vote is for the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly and delegates will serve five-year terms. Each constituency has a single candidate who has been approved by the Workers’ Party of Korea. There are no opposition candidates.
The acts of defiance, including sporadic outbreaks of graffiti critical of the government in the city of Chongjin and other locations in North Hamgyong Province, emerged as rumours of the failed Hanoi summit with Donald Trump filtered into the country.
North Korean state media has made no mention of the outcome of the talks, claiming instead that the two men left Vietnam on good terms and determined to meet again in the near future.
But despite a nationwide crackdown against anyone attempting to communicate beyond the North’s borders, dissident groups said the authorities have been powerless to block news that the talks collapsed without Mr Kim winning concessions on the punitive economic sanctions that are strangling his regime.
The satallite images, which were released to the US's National Public Radio on Saturday, also showed activity at North Korea's Sohae site which has been the scene of satellite launches in recent years.
The photos taken on February 22 showed cars, trucks, rail cars and two cranes at Sanumdong, while in more recent images taken on Friday it appeared that the activity had died down and one of the cranes had disappeared.
Mr Trump said on Friday he would be disappointed if Pyongyang were to resume weapons testing and reiterated his belief in his good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un despite the collapse last week of their second summit.
"I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we'll see what happens," Trump told reporters. "I would be very disappointed if I saw testing."