Seoul closely monitoring N. Korea for 'missile launch,' says military

Democracy, DPRK style: North Korea holds election

The chief US envoy for North Korea said on Monday that "diplomacy is still very much alive" with Pyongyang despite a failed summit last month, but cautioned that Washington was closely watching activity at a North Korean rocket site and did not know if it might be planning a new launch.

The new activity was detected at a North Korean missile research center and long-range rocket site. The two leaders did not reach a deal on denuclearization. "Mystifying the revolutionary activities and appearance of the leader causes the truth to be hidden", he said.

In his remarks, Biegun insisted that "diplomacy is still very much alive" with North Korea, but the absence of any scheduled meetings between Washington and Pyongyang, and the initiation of suspicious construction activity at the Sohae launch site has raised concerns that the positive atmosphere between Trump and Kim could quickly unravel.

Kim could also be prepping the launch facilities to increase their value in future talks with the US, said Go Myong-Hyun, a research fellow at Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

Images of Samundong taken on February 22 showed cars and trucks at the site, as well as rail cars and cranes at a yard, U.S. news outlet NPR has reported.

It remains unclear at this point, if the possible launch would be for a missile or a satellite rocket.

That comment drew attention from many in the North Korea-watching community, due to its marking a notable difference from the language used by U.S. Special Representative Stephen Biegun in remarks delivered at Stanford University in January. "It wants early resumption of talks with the United States, but on better terms".

"If we're going to stay firm on the maximalist position, it's hard to see where we go from here because there's no way Kim is going to accept this", said Vipin Narang, a North Korea expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Satellite pictures in August suggested workers were dismantling an engine test stand at the facility.

"In our society, all the people in unanimous unity gather around the revered Supreme leader", said the election official Ko Kyong Hak, the news Agency AFP before the election in a local cable factory in Pyongyang.

But Beigun, speaking at a nuclear conference in Washington, said gaps remain between the two sides and North Korea must show it is fully committed to elimination of its nuclear weapons.

John Bolton, President Donald Trump's hawkish national security adviser, said Sunday the U.S. sees "exactly what they are doing" in regard to possible launch moves by the nuclear-armed state.

Both North Korea and the administration don't seem to see it that way, however, and say that there might be a fair bit of delay before the next summit.

Soviet-style Communist states had a long tradition of holding general elections, he said, even if the ruling party ignored its own rules about holding regular congresses - something the North skipped for more than 30 years.

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