North Korea details plans to dismantle nuclear test site this month

April FrancisMay 13, 2018

North Korea is "taking technical measures" to dismantle its nuclear test site, state media said on Saturday in the latest dramatic step ahead of a historic summit between leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump next month.

Explosives will start the demolition by collapsing under-ground tunnels, the statement said, before removing observations areas, research institutes and guard-units.

In announcing the plan to shut Punggye-ri last month, Kim said North Korea no longer needed to conduct tests because it had completed its goal of developing nuclear weapons.

Until recently, Mr Kim and Mr Trump had been trading personal insults and threats, heightening tensions over North Korea's nuclear programme.

Kim Jong-un promised to invite journalists and security experts to North Korea to watch the process.

This picture taken on May 9, 2019 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 10 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) shaking hands at the Workers' Party of Korea headquarters in Pyongyang.

Pompeo spoke to reporters at the State Department following his return from a trip to Pyongyang to negotiate with the North Korean leader and retrieve three Americans held by the regime.

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Officials with the agency wouldn't estimate the likelihood of such an explosion, but called it a "distinct possibility". She's anxious potential flight disruptions would strand them on the island.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Friday promised the USA would work to rebuild North Korea's sanctions-crippled economy if it agreed to surrender its nuclear arsenal.

"From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)", KCNA said at the time.

In order to accommodate the travelling journalists, North Korea said various measures would be taken including "opening territorial air space".

North Korea's reference to such activity is created to communicate that even without underground testing, the country intends to maintain its nuclear arsenal and be a "responsible" steward of those weapons at the same time, said Andrea Berger, a senior analyst at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Kim declared his nuclear force as complete in December, following the country's most powerful nuclear test to date in September and also three flight tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles created to reach the U.S. mainland.

North Korea has invited the outside world to witness the dismantling of its nuclear facilities before.

Experts have said the pledge to dismantle the test site is a big step forward but verifying it will be hard.

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