Satellite images show that North Korea has already started dismantling its underground nuclear testing site in preparation for the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump planned for next month, according to a blog run by former U.S. diplomats called 38 North.
In a goodwill gesture from the country, North Korea’s Foreign Minister pledged on May 12 to hold a ceremony for the destruction of the nuclear test site later this month.
“A ceremony for dismantling the nuclear test ground is now scheduled between May 23 and 25,” depending on weather, the Foreign Ministry’s statement said.
The minister also invited journalists from the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Britain to attend the ceremony.
However, the April 30 and May 7 satellite pictures show “the first definitive evidence that dismantlement of the test site was already well underway,” read the 38 North blog.
“Several key operational support buildings, located just outside the North, West and South Portals, have been razed since our last analysis,” the site’s experts said. “Some of the rails for the mining carts, which had led from the tunnels to their respective spoil piles, have apparently been removed. Additionally, some carts seem to have been tipped over and/or disassembled, and several small sheds/outbuildings around the site had been removed.”
38 North noted that several buildings do remain intact, speculating that officials are waiting for the May ceremony to completely dismantle the site.
Trump responded to the news on Saturday evening, calling North Korea’s announcement ahead of the summit a “very smart and gracious gesture.”
The president announced via Twitter on Thursday that the historic summit between the nation’s leaders is scheduled to take place on June 12 in Singapore.
“We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!” Trump wrote in the tweet.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Friday that the United States will come along side North Korea if they fulfill their pledge to denuclearize.
“We can create conditions for real economic prosperity for the North Korean people that will rival that of the South, and that is our expectation. It won’t be U.S. taxpayers. It will be American know-how, knowledge entrepreneurs and risk takers working alongside the North Korean people to create a robust economy,” he said.
“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.”
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