Speaking to reporters Friday on a flight to Singapore for talks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed his claim of North Korea making “fissile material” and subsequent media reports claiming activity at a North Korean missile site.
Pompeo said if the reports were true, North Korea was “behaving in a manner inconsistent with” commitments made at the Trump-Kim summit, as well as in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. There is no evidence that either of the allegations is actually true, however.
The missile site reports are based on third party analysis of satellite photos, and was contradicted by other photos showing North Korea had dismantled parts of the testing site. Pompeo offered no details on his fissile material claim.
There are, however, reasons to believe North Korea could be producing fissile material without having a nuclear weapons program. North Korea’s civilian nuclear reactors also produce plutonium as a by-product, and pledging to freeze their weapons program does not necessarily mean North Korea was committed to dismantling its civilian nuclear infrastructure.
It is noteworthy that Pompeo qualified his comments as being contingent on the reports of North Korea’s behavior being true. This is particularly interesting since Pompeo was the source of some of those accusations.