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Seoul: North Korea launch would be catastrophe for diplomacy

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Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, speaks during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Moon says a possible North Korean rocket launch would cause a

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea must not use a possible rocket launch as leverage in negotiations with the U.S, a South Korean presidential adviser said Tuesday, saying such a move could be "catastrophic" for global diplomacy on its nuclear program.

U.S.-based websites recently released satellite photographs indicating North Korea has restored structures at a long-range rocket launch facility that it dismantled last year at the start of diplomacy with the United States. Other satellite images show increased activities by vehicles at a separate North Korean facility used to manufacture missiles, and rockets for satellite launches.

Some experts say these suggest North Korea may be assembling a long-range rocket to carry out a banned satellite launch following the breakdown of last month's North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi.

Moon Chung-in, a retired university professor who is now a special adviser to President Moon Jae-in, said North Korea's use of a rocket launch or other nuclear activities as a bargaining chip would be a "bad move."

Moon Chung-in said such a North Korean move could eventually cause a "catastrophic" consequence or a "big disaster" in U.S.-North Korea diplomacy. "I wonder if North Korea should avoid" such an action, Moon said in a panel discussion.

He said both North Korea and the U.S. must restrain themselves to keep diplomacy alive and start unofficial contacts to resume talks. He said the Hanoi summit showed how "difficult" and "painful" it will be to achieve denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Also Tuesday, South Korea's Foreign Ministry said it is worried about the developments at North Korea's rocket launch site, and that Seoul and Washington have been closely monitoring the area. "We hope the North side will make a wise decision ... which would benefit all," ministry spokesman Kim In-chul told reporters.

Speaking about the reported activities at the North Korean site, President Donald Trump told reporters last week that "I would be very disappointed if that were happening." He said it was "a very early report" and that "we'll see what happens. We'll take a look. It will ultimately get solved."

The Hanoi summit fell apart due to disputes over how much sanctions relief North Korea should receive in return for limited nuclear disarmament steps. The U.S. and North Korea accuse each other of causing the summit's breakdown, but both sides have avoided harsh criticism of the other and have expressed hope for future negotiations. No official meeting between the countries has been publicly scheduled.

The Feb. 27-28 summit was the second between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Trump since they met for the first time in Singapore last June.

FILE - In this file image provided by Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via a satellite image from CNES which was captured on March 6, 2019, shows the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea must not use a possible rocket launch as leverage in negotiations with the U.S, a special South Korean presidential adviser said Tuesday, March 12, 2019, saying such a move could be
Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, speaks during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Moon says a possible North Korean rocket launch would cause a
This image provided by Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via a satellite image from CNES which was captured on March 6, 2019, shows the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via AP)
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe, was captured on March 2, 2019, and shows the rocket test stand at the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company, via AP)
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe captured on March 2, 2019, and shows the launch tower at the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch site, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company, via AP)
Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, speaks during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Moon says a possible North Korean rocket launch would cause a
Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, speaks during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Moon says a possible North Korean rocket launch would cause a "catastrophic" consequence for diplomacy on the North's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe, was captured on March 2, 2019, and shows the rocket test stand at the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company, via AP)
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe, was captured on March 2, 2019, and shows the rocket test stand at the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company, via AP)
FILE - In this file image provided by Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via a satellite image from CNES which was captured on March 6, 2019, shows the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea must not use a possible rocket launch as leverage in negotiations with the U.S, a special South Korean presidential adviser said Tuesday, March 12, 2019, saying such a move could be
FILE - In this file image provided by Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via a satellite image from CNES which was captured on March 6, 2019, shows the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea must not use a possible rocket launch as leverage in negotiations with the U.S, a special South Korean presidential adviser said Tuesday, March 12, 2019, saying such a move could be "catastrophic" for global diplomacy on its nuclear program. (Defence & Space and 38 North via AP, File)
This image provided by Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via a satellite image from CNES which was captured on March 6, 2019, shows the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via AP)
This image provided by Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via a satellite image from CNES which was captured on March 6, 2019, shows the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. Airbus Defence & Space and 38 North via AP)
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe captured on March 2, 2019, and shows the launch tower at the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch site, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company, via AP)
This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe captured on March 2, 2019, and shows the launch tower at the Sohae Satellite Launch Facility in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. North Korea is restoring facilities at the long-range rocket launch site, which it dismantled last year as part of disarmament steps, according to foreign experts and a South Korean lawmaker who was briefed by Seoul's spy service. The finding follows a high-stakes nuclear summit last week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump that ended without any agreement. (DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company, via AP)
Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, speaks during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Moon says a possible North Korean rocket launch would cause a
Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, speaks during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 12, 2019. Moon says a possible North Korean rocket launch would cause a "catastrophic" consequence for diplomacy on the North's nuclear program. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)