N Korea continues to be a nuclear threat: Pompeo

"We've been pretty unambiguous in our conversations about what we mean when we say complete denuclearisation", Pompeo told a Senate subcommittee hearing.

Captured on June 21, the photos reveal modifications to the site's plutonium production reactor and the construction of several support facilities - long-planned upgrades that were already underway before North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump met in Singapore earlier this month.

Pompeo defended the statement, saying Trump had reduced the threat, by reducing tensions. "I don't think there's any doubt about that".

Last week, the USA military said it moved 100 wooden coffins to the border between North and South Korea in preparation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been pushing for more follow-up talks to flesh out details over denuclearisation but no date has been set for when they would take place.

That led Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, to quip, "if North Korea's watching the hearing, and I hope you are: Take the deal".

Pompeo said he would be leading the ongoing talks with Pyongyang, but declined to discuss details.

North Korea's state media on Wednesday acknowledged inter-Korean discussions on "issues arising in reconnecting, updating and using the railways on the east and west coasts", but did not describe that South Korea would be sending officials and experts to examine the country's aging rail system.

In response to a question from Montana Republican Sen.

So far, however, large-scale economic cooperation between the two Koreas is hampered by economic sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United Nations Security Council following its nuclear and missile tests. Uranium enrichment, a key component for civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons, is still taking place, according to 38 North's interpretation of the images.

On Wednesday, Pompeo acknowledged the United States has seen "a modest amount" of backsliding from China on sanctions enforcement, but insisted China's President Xi Jinping assured him they'll continue to work "side by side" with the US on achieving North Korean denuclearization.

  • Joey Payne