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North Korea Casts Doubt Over Plans To Dismantle Its Nuke Site By Turning Away South Korean Journalists

Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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North Korea “declined to accept” the list of South Korean journalists selected by Seoul to observe the dismantling of the North’s nuclear test site, the South Korean Ministry of Unification revealed Friday.

Pyongyang invited eight South Korean journalists to bare witness to the demolition of the Punngye-ri nuclear test site, where North Korea has conducted a total of six nuclear tests, the unification ministry said Tuesday. North Korea has since cancelled talks with South Korea indefinitely, criticizing it for behavior that it deems unacceptable — specifically the joint military exercises with the U.S.

A foreign ministry statement carried by North Korean state media explained Wednesday that Pyongyang considers military exercises to be a violation of the Panmunjom Declaration, a bilateral commitment to peace signed by both Korean leaders at the landmark inter-Korean summit in April. North Korea continued to criticize the South into Thursday.

“Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the North-South high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea,” Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification, said in a statement carried by North Korea’s state-run media. “The present South Korean authorities have been clearly proven to be an ignorant and incompetent group devoid of the elementary sense of the present situation.” (RELATED: Fragile Korean Peace In Jeopardy As North Korea Slams ‘Ignorant And Incompetent’ South Korean Government)

Now, North Korea is refusing to accept South Korean journalists for the dismantling of its nuclear site, a major event expected to take place next week. This sudden move certainly casts some doubt over the North’s commitment to dismantle the site.

One week before the inter-Korean summit in late April, North Korea announced plans to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site and put an end to nuclear testing. After the summit, Pyongyang said that it intends to publicly dismantle the site, and this past weekend, the North released key details about the plan to decommission the site. In recent weeks, the North has torn down buildings and other relevant infrastructure at the nuclear test site, according to satellite images analyzed by leading experts and analysts. (RELATED: North Korea Reveals New Details About The Dismantling Of Its Nuclear Test Site)

In addition to cancelling talks with South Korea, North Korea has also threatened the leadership summit with President Donald Trump scheduled to take place next month in Singapore.

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