North Korea will publicly dismantle the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site in the next two weeks, according to state media.
“A ceremony for dismantling the nuclear test ground is now scheduled between May 23 and 25, depending on weather condition,” the Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday, adding that all tunnels will be destroyed, all entrances will be sealed, all observation facilities will be removed, and all research and guard personnel will be withdrawn.
North Korea indicated that “technical measures” are already being taken in preparation. Recent satellite images of the test site reveal the North has already removed a number of buildings.
Local press, as well as reporters from the U.S., U.K., South Korea, China, and Russia will be invited to witness the closure of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site. North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests at this site.
One week before the inter-Korean summit on April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced plans to dismantle the nuclear test site. “The nuclear test and the intercontinental ballistic missile test will be discontinued,” state media reported. “North Korea’s nuclear test center will be discarded in order to ensure the transparency of the suspension of the nuclear test.” (RELATED: North Korea Has Agreed To Close A Major Nuclear Weapons Testing Site)
The North Korean leader revealed during the summit that his country plans to publicly close the test site, announcing experts and journalists from foreign countries will be invited. (RELATED: North Korea Wants To Let The World Watch It Dismantle Its Nuclear Test Site, Seoul Says)
Kim has expressed a commitment to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, although there are still questions about his sincerity given North Korea’s tendency to fail to follow through on its commitments. For instance, Kim’s father Kim Jong Il invited foreign journalists to watch the destruction of a cooling tower at the Yongbyon reactor, where the North produced plutonium, in the summer of 2008.
Not only was it later revealed North Korea was secretly enriching uranium, but the rogue nation conducted its second nuclear test less than one year later in May 2009.
Following the release of three American prisoners Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced he will meet with Kim in Singapore on June 12. The administration is approaching the summit with cautious optimism.
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