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US envoy heads to Moscow as rumors of Putin-Kim meeting heat up

The United States special representative for North Korea is headed to Moscow amid rumors in South Korean media that Kim Jong Un is planning to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon.

Stephen Biegun’s trip appears to be the latest attempt by Washington to jumpstart high-stakes nuclear talks with Pyongyang that have seemingly been stuck in neutral since the abrupt end to a summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Hanoi.

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Trump and Kim left the Vietnamese capital without a deal in part due to disagreements over trading sanctions relief for North Korea scaling back its nuclear program.
Russia has previously echoed North Korea’s call for phased sanctions relief in exchange for denuclearization, while Trump has reportedly pushed for a big deal that gets that gets to the heart of North Korea’s nuclear program and goes beyond Pyongyang dismantling one key facility, Yongbyon.
Rumors of a potential Putin-Kim summit also come as new analysis of satellite imagery suggests there may be renewed activity at Yongbyon.
According to CSIS, a US think tank with links to the government and defense industry, new photographs show five specialized rail cars at a part of the Yongbyon facility near an uranium enrichment facility and radiochemistry laboratory, two sites used in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The think tank said it obtained the photos on April 12.
This handout image from CSIS shows the presence of rail cars at a portion of the Yongbyon nuclear site in North Korea.

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