Satellite images show that North Korea has already started dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, potentially a big win for the international community, which has been trying to get this rogue nation to stop testing nukes for years.
Pyongyang revealed detailed plans over the weekend to completely dismantle and demolish its nuclear test site next week (May 23-25). “Commercial satellite imagery from May 7 provided the first definitive evidence that dismantlement of the test site was already well underway,” U.S. researchers affiliated with the North Korea-monitoring site 38 North reported Monday evening. (RELATED: North Korea Reveals New Details About The Dismantling Of Its Nuclear Test Site)
“Several key operational support buildings, located just outside the North, West and South Portals, have been razed,” the report noted, adding that the North appears to have removed some of the rails for mining carts, many of which have been disassembled. A number of small sheds and outbuildings have also been demolished.
The 38 North report confirmed an earlier analysis from a team of researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies who determined that North Korea was tearing down buildings near the nuclear test site. “Over the past two weeks, five or six buildings have inexplicably come down,” Jeffrey Lewis, respected arms expert and director of the East Asia program, told The Washington Post last week, pointing to commercial satellite images.
Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, revealed Tuesday that the South Korean military has detected signs that North Korea is carrying out “preparatory work” for the demolition of the test site. (RELATED: North Korea Wants To Let The World Watch It Dismantle Its Nuclear Test Site, Seoul Says)
North Korea will invite foreign journalist, but not experts, to observe the destruction of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Like the release of the three American prisoners last week, the Trump administration considers the closure of the test site a sign of good faith and goodwill prior to President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12.
The dismantling of the nuclear test site is welcome news, but it follows assertions by the regime that North Korea has completed its nuclear force and achieved its historic mission.
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