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(LEAD) U.S. will ask N. Korea for clarification on missile site reassembly: official

All Headlines 09:14 March 08, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more remarks; CHANGES headline)

WASHINGTON, March 7 (Yonhap) -- The United States will ask North Korea for clarification on the purposes of its reassembly of a key missile facility, a senior U.S. official said Thursday as President Donald Trump expressed repeated disappointment over the activity.

North Korea began to rebuild parts of the missile engine testing site in Dongchang-ri in the runup to Trump's second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27-28, according to two U.S. think tanks earlier this week.

By Wednesday, commercial satellite imagery showed that the facility may have been restored to normal operational status following its partial dismantlement last year, they said.

Trump said Wednesday he would be "very, very disappointed" with Kim if the reports were true, and on Thursday added he was "a little disappointed" by Kim and the reported activity.

"We don't know why they are taking these steps," the State Department official told reporters on background.

But the U.S. will ask the North for "clarification on the purposes," he said.

The U.S. has yet to draw a conclusion on what is happening at the site, he added, but "We're watching in real time as you are the developments at Sohae."

Sohae Satellite Launching Station is the facility's formal name.

The official added that while Sohae should be destroyed as part of North Korea's denuclearization, it's not a critical part of the regime's nuclear infrastructure and its importance should not be exaggerated.

hague@yna.co.kr
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