As North Korea prepares for leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with President Donald Trump in June, it announced Saturday that it will conclude its efforts to dismantle a nuclear test site with a public ceremony later this month.
Journalists from the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Britain will be invited to watch, according to The Associated Press.
Journalists are being invited to “show in a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground to be carried out,” Reuters reported North Korea’s official news agency as saying.
To allow the reporters in, North Korea will open up its highly restricted air space.
During the event, all tunnels will be destroyed by explosions. All observation and research facilities and ground-based guard units will also be removed, the news agency said.
The event is set to take place between May 23 and May 25, depending upon the weather.
All of North Korea’s nuclear tests have taken place in Punggye-ri, where tunnels were dug under Mount Mantap. Since September, experts have theorized that the test site has been so badly damaged by the tests that it is no longer usable. In April, North Korea announced it would no longer be conducting nuclear tests.
Researchers said this week that space-based radar showed the site was extensively damaged and that major portions have collapsed, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“This means that a very large domain has collapsed around the test site, not merely a tunnel or two,” said Sylvain Barbot, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and one author of a new study of the site.
Another expert said that whether the move to dismantle the nuclear test site in a public ceremony is propaganda or not, it is good news.
“At the very least, this is a welcome PR move,” Jeffrey Lewis, head of the East Asia program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, told The Washington Post.
Lewis said North Korea has already been working to dismantle the site.
“Over the past two weeks, five or six buildings have inexplicably come down,” he said. “Something is clearly happening there.”
On Friday, following conversations with Kim that took place on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the regime’s efforts to stop its nuclear program could be a first step to a better relationship between the United States and North Korea.
“We had good conversations about the histories of our two nations, the challenges that we have had between us,” Pompeo told reporters, according to CBS News. “We talked about the fact that America has often in history had adversaries who we are now close partners with and our hope that we could achieve the same with respect to North Korea.”
Pompeo said that the U.S. will help North Korea if it ends efforts to build nuclear weapons.
“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.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.