North Korea inviting South Korean reporters to closure of nuclear site

Hugh Fox
May 15, 2018

Thae's remarks come in the backdrop of recent shut down of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site following the announcement by South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in this May 9, 2018 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry announced Saturday that it will dismantle the test site between May 23 and 25.

Satellite images examined by American researchers appear to show building demolitions, removal of railways, and overturned mining carts at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea.

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South Korea's mass-circulation JoongAng Ilbo daily said in an editorial Monday that "it is regrettable that North Korea did not invite nuclear experts to the destruction of the test site". Lewis, of the Middlebury Institute, argues that the tunnel's horizontal layout would also make it relatively easy to "pop" open the sealed entrances and regain access after their closing.

Pompeo told "Face the Nation" that his most recent trip to North Korea was created to lay the groundwork for President Trump's upcoming summit with Kim.

Chinese scientists claimed that the final test in 2017 caused serious damage to the mountain test site and created a serious risk of collapse, making it unsafe for further testing.

U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore.

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"If North Korea takes bold action to quickly denuclearize, the United States is prepared to work with North Korea to achieve prosperity on the par with our South Korean friends", he said Friday.

However, analysts say the last five nuclear tests were all conducted using the same tunnel, and that although that tunnel may be damaged beyond fix, the North Koreans could dig others for potential future tests.

"We will lay the groundwork for the sustainable development of inter-Korean relations and lasting peace by discussing implementation measures of the Panmunjom declaration", the ministry said, referring to the summit agreement.

The shutdown process will unfold under the presences of journalists, including those from the US and South Korea. Pyongyang later announced it would destroy its only known nuclear test site.

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The Koreas remain technically at war after the conflict ended with an Armistice Agreement signed by the North, China and the U.S. Kim has repeatedly expressed his commitment to denuclearization, but it's unclear on what terms.


Pompeo and other United States 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. While this gesture of regime is taken as a sign of goodwill to negotiations, North Korean leader has ensured that his country's nuclear force "is complete", and refore no longer needs this nuclear silo.

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