North Korea Boosting Nuclear Fuel Production At Secret Sites: Report

Satellite images show expanding work on a nuclear research site despite Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump’s vow to “work toward” denuclearization.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un poses with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un poses with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

North Korea has been secretly increasing production of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons at clandestine sites, several U.S. intelligence sources have told NBC News.

The information, based on the latest U.S. intelligence assessment, follows CNN’s publication of satellite photos earlier this week showing expanding work on a nuclear research site in North Korea.

The news also comes just weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with President Donald Trump in a historic summit in Singapore. The leaders said they would “work toward” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but they didn’t settle on specific details or deadlines.

Even as U.S. and North Korean leaders were reaching out to one another to arrange the summit, Pyongyang was boosting its enriched uranium production, five U.S. officials told NBC. 

The North Koreans have stopped nuclear tests, but “there’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” said one U.S. official, the network reported Friday. “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S.”

Another senior intelligence official told NBC: “Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles.”

After the June 12 summit, Trump declared that North Korea was “no longer” a nuclear threat. He insisted Kim would begin dismantling his country’s missile sites in the immediate future, telling ABC News that Kim “trusts me and I trust him.”

Just two weeks after the summit, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a Senate panel that North Korea still remained a nuclear threat. He said he was certain Trump had intended to say the threat was reduced, not that it no longer existed.

“I’m confident what [Trump] intended there was, ‘We did reduce the threat,’” Pompeo said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

Satellite images from June 21, which CNN revealed Wednesday, appear to show upgrades to a major nuclear research facility in North Korea.

Analysts at 38 North, which tracks North Korean activity, said the images revealed that “improvements to the infrastructure at North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center are continuing at a rapid pace.”