The facility is the same one that produced North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States in 2017.
The development comes shortly after President Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday: “I would be very disappointed if I saw testing.”
“I would be surprised in a negative way if he did anything that was not per our understanding. But we’ll see what happens.”
North Korea has frozen nuclear and missile testing since 2017, and Trump has pointed to this as a positive outcome from nearly a year of high-level engagement with the country, Reuters reports.
The president has been eager for a big foreign policy win on North Korea which has eluded his predecessors for decades and has repeatedly stressed his good relationship with Kim.
He went as far late last year as saying that they “fell in love,” but the bonhomie has failed to bridge the wide gap between the two sides and a second summit between them collapsed last week in Vietnam over differences on US demands for Kim to give up his nuclear weapons and North Korea’s demands for sanctions relief.
Discussing the latest satellite images on Friday, US National Public Radio quoted experts from California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies as saying that satellite images of Sanumdong taken on 22 February and on Friday suggested North Korea could be preparing to launch a missile or a space rocket.
One of the experts, Jeffrey Lewis, told Reuters the activity at the two sites was “probably connected.” NPR said the 22 February photos showed cars, trucks, rail cars and two cranes at Sanumdong, while in those taken on Friday, the activity had died down and one of the cranes had disappeared.
Other experts, including Joel Wit at 38 North and Michael Elleman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies considered the conclusion speculative.
“In the past there have been multiple reports about activity at this place that turned out to be false alarms,” Wit said, referring to Sanumdong.
“It could either be preparation for an eventual launch or not.”