North Korea has scheduled the dismantlement of its nuclear bomb test site for sometime between May 23 and 25 in order to uphold its pledge to discontinue nuclear tests, the country’s state media reported on Saturday a month ahead of a historic summit.
The official Korean Central New Agency said dismantlement of the Punggye-ri nuclear test ground would involve collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances, and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts.
“The Nuclear Weapon Institute and other concerned institutions are taking technical measures for dismantling the northern nuclear test ground in order to ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test,” KCNA said.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will hold talks in Singapore on June 12, the first-ever meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.
Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that North Korea can look forward to “a future brimming with peace and prosperity” if it agrees to quickly give up its nuclear weapons.
Trump welcomed the North Korean announcement.
“North Korea has announced that they will dismantle Nuclear Test Site this month, ahead of the big Summit Meeting on June12th,” he tweeted. “Thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture! Thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture!”
South Korea’s presidential office echoed the sentiment on Sunday, saying it shows Pyongyang’s willingness to denuclearise through actions beyond words.
However, in spite of its pledge to stop testing, North Korea has given no indication it is willing to go beyond statements of broad conceptual support for denuclearization by unilaterally abandoning a nuclear weapons program its ruling family has seenas crucial to its survival.
In announcing the plan to shut Punggye-ri last month, Kimsaid North Korea no longer needed to conduct tests because it had completed its goal of developing nuclear weapons.
KCNA said journalists, including from the United States and South Korea, would be invited to cover the event, to “show in a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground to be carried out”. The exact date of the closure will depend on weather conditions, the agency said.
To accommodate the travelling journalists, North Korea said various measures would be taken including “opening territorial air space”.