North Korean fuel prices drop, suggesting UN sanctions being undermined

US-Led Sanctions Still Crippling North Korea's Economy

Trump said new satellite photos indicating the North has begun to take down facilities at the Sohae site are a sign of progress from the "fantastic" summit he held last month in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The dismantling at the site comes after Kim Jong-un promised to halt all missile testing, and is a significant confidence-building measure.

Most notably, it said, the dismantlement was proceeding at a rail-mounted processing building - where space launch vehicles are assembled before being moved to a launchpad - as well as at a nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles.

Daily NK's researchers also found the price of rice surprisingly stable for a North Korean economy that contracted by 3.5 percent previous year, which might be further evidence of a plan to insulate North Korea from the most painful and politically destabilizing effects of the sanctions regime.

Duyeon Kim, a North Korean expert at the Centre for a New American Security, said: "Trump has been hit with a strong dose of reality of North Korea's negotiating style, which is always hard for Americans to understand".

He added, however, that while the first steps in dismantling the site are important, in reality, Pyongyang is giving up little as it appears the country is content with the current long-range weapons in its possession. The central plot of the book talks about how renewed tensions involving North Korea and a deadly border incident could quickly escalate into nuclear war, due to political miscalculation, miscommunication and brinksmanship. "Japan is happy, all of Asia is happy", Trump said on Twitter.

Pyongyang expressed frustration at high-level talks with Washington held earlier this month, stating the USA made "unilateral, gangster-like" demands.

A TV screen shows a satellite image of North Korea's Sohae launch site during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul South Kore Tuesday
Report says images indicate North Korea dismantling test site facilities

"This could - and that's a big "could" - mean that North Korea is also willing to forgo satellite launches for the time being as well as nuclear and missile tests". "As we have stated before, we are committed to building a peace mechanism with the goal of replacing the armistice agreement when North Korea has denuclearized".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also called the development "consistent" with recent commitments made by Pyongyang.

However, North Korea still has a very long way to go towards denuclearization.

Earlier this month, satellite images posted online by researchers show North Korea continuing to expand a ballistic missile manufacturing site while also upgrading a separate nuclear facility.

The president, who reportedly has grown angry with news coverage of the meeting, told a crowd in Kansas City, Missouri, that the satellite pictures prove that the negotiation process with North Korea is "going very well". He said inspectors should be on the ground inside North Korea to verify the moves - something Mr. Kim apparently has not allowed.

The North Korean government has maintained that the site is only for scientific and peaceful uses, but US intelligence believes Sohae plays a critical role in testing technology used in their long-range missile program.

In that way, North Korea has kept its direct promise to Trump and demonstrated, for perhaps the first time, a real willingness to scale back the key parts of its missile system that could bring about a major war with the US. On his part, Trump shortly after the meeting paused some of the joint exercises the USA holds with South Korea.

Trump arrives in Finland for summit with Putin
A post-NATO trip to Britain, supposedly America's partner in a "special relationship", was riddled with controversy as well. The demonstrations were peaceful and crossed political party lines to protest against both Trump and Putin .

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