North Korea announces dismantling of nuclear test site

Satellite image

During the visit he finalised details of the June 12 summit between Kim and President Donald Trump and secured the release of three Americans imprisoned in North Korea.

State authorities will put the site out of operation by using explosives to collapse the tunnels used for testing between 23 and 25 May, the foreign ministry said in a statement on the official KCNA website.

Journalists applying to cover the event will be limited to citizens of China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Korea, due to the remote and diminutive nature of the site.

"The Nuclear Weapon Institute and other concerned institutions are taking technical measures for dismantling the northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK [The Democratic People's Republic of Korea] in order to ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test", KCNA said.

The historically isolated country also plans to soften air space restrictions and allow more access for foreign media for the destruction of the nuclear site, according to a message carried by North Korean state media.

Geologists at the University of Science and Technology of China have presented evidence suggesting the mountain directly above North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site has collapsed, reports the Associated Press.

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Pompeo and other USA officials have repeatedly said they are seeking North Korea's permanent verifiable denuclearization, while North Korean officials have said that they have already achieved their nuclear objectives.

But analysts suspect that Kim may only consider halting production on nuclear weapons, without fully giving up the missiles already made. "It will make it more hard for Kim Jong Un to deny inspections now that he has placed them on the table".

And as the eyes of the world turn toward North Korea, it will be under pressure to deliver on its show of goodwill by committing to further steps to denuclearize the peninsula.

But in September 2008, the North declared that it would resume reprocessing plutonium, complaining that Washington wasn't fulfilling its promise to remove the country from the USA list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The administration of George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list in October 2008 after the country agreed to continue disabling its nuclear plant. However, in spite of its pledge to stop testing, North Korea has given no indication it is willing to go beyond statements of broad conceptual support for denuclearization by unilaterally abandoning a nuclear weapons program its ruling family has seen as crucial to its survival.

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