The White House said Sunday it does not “have any illusions” about whether North Korea is preparing to resume missile testing, but refused to assess commercial satellite imagery suggesting Pyongyang is assembling a new rocket.
National security adviser John Bolton told ABC News the U.S. watches North Korea “constantly,” but added, “I’m not going to speculate on what that commercial satellite imagery shows.”
The Feb. 22 imagery seems to show new North Korean missile activity at an assembly operation, but Bolton said the U.S.”relies on its own” satellite surveillance and draws its conclusions from those images.
“We see exactly what they’re doing,” he said. “We look every day at the intelligence. I don’t want to get into speculation as to what they’re doing.”
After last month’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, U.S. President Donald Trump said he trusted Kim’s pledge to him that he would not resume nuclear or missile testing.
Bolton said that Trump “is confident in his relations with Kim Jong Un.”
Asked about the commercial satellite images on Friday, Trump said he would be “very disappointed” if North Korea resumed nuclear testing. He said he has greatly improved U.S. relations with North Korea during his time in office.
“Look, when I came in,” he said, “under the Obama administration, North Korea was a disaster. You were going to war, folks, whether you know it or not. . . . I inherited a mess.”
He continued, “Right now you have no testing, you have no nothing. Let’s see what happens, but I would be very disappointed if I saw testing.”
North Korean state media said for the first time on Friday that the summit late last month made no advances and its people were blaming the U.S. for the lack of an agreement.
Trump and Kim met in Vietnam in a summit meant to reach an agreement on North Korean denuclearization. But the meeting collapsed over an impasse over how many weapons sites North Korea would shut down and the extent of economic sanctions relief the U.S. would offer in return.
Following the summit, South Korean newspapers reported there was evidence of new activity at the Sohae long-range rocket site, a site Kim agreed last year to shut down as part of confidence-building measures with the United States.