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North Korea 'sending message' from Sohae launch facility, report says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea 'sending message' from Sohae launch facility, report says
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) shown in a photo of the Sohae satellite launch facility issued in 2017. Activity is up at the long-range missile launch site, according to U.S. analysts. File Photo by KCNA/EPA

Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Activity at North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station is rising following what Pyongyang has described as a "very important test" of a rocket engine.

It is likely the North is intentionally sending a message from the site.

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A South Korean military official told local television network SBS North Korea "knows its activities are being exposed to U.S. and South Korea military authorities," and yet the regime "is mobilizing vehicles and equipment, hinting at a provocation by sending a message."

On Thursday 38 North published new commercial satellite imagery showing continued activity. According to U.S. analysts, a truck is seen parked next to the newer "fuel/oxidizer bunkers."

RELATED South Korea releases pre-emptive strike video amid rising tensions

"A possible crane is nearby, but the limited resolution of this image precludes a more definitive assessment," the analysts said.

U.S. officials have warned North Korea against serious provocations, including the launch of a long-range missile capable of reaching the continental United States.

President Donald Trump "has said he wants to work with North Korea," said David Stilwell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs on Thursday. "He wants to help build their economy. But there's also the reminder that we can't have any more of this unfortunate, ill-advised behavior, and that hasn't changed. That position is the same."

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RELATED U.S. envoy to U.N. raises concern of North Korea ICBM test

As tensions rise, the United States remains committed to talks with Pyongyang.

South Korean television network JTBC reported Friday U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit the South on Sunday for a three-day trip.

Biegun's visit is raising the possibility he could visit the border village of Panmunjom and make contact with the North Koreans.

RELATED North Korea ICBM test possible after Security Council meeting, analysts say

Earlier this week at the United Nations Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft warned North Korea against "deeply counterproductive" weapons tests.

"Ballistic missiles will not bring greater security," Craft said.

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