North Korea has said it will dismantle its nuclear test site within two weeks. The announcement came less than 24 hours after the US promised Pyongyang a future “brimming with prosperity,” if it denuclearizes.
North Korea on Saturday said it had planned a ceremony to dismantle its nuclear test site between May 23 and 25, depending on weather conditions.
The event is scheduled to take place ahead of a planned meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Dismantling North Korea’s nuclear test site — located in a remote mountainous area — would involve collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts, according to the country’s state-run KCNA news agency.
Voyage to the test zone
- Pyongyang said a limited number of journalists from China, Russia, the United States, Britain and South Korea will cover the event to “show in a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground to be carried out.”
- KCNA said it will “open territorial airspace” to international journalists invited to cover the event. They will be flown into eastern North Korea from Beijing, before being transported on a charter train to the nuclear test site in an “uninhabited deep mountain” area.
Kim Jong Un promised to pursue denuclearization at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month. It was a dramatic turnaround after Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” on Kim’s regime last August, prompting the North Korean leader to label the US president “mentally deranged.” A month later, Trump vowed to “totally destroy” North Korea in case of an attack on the US or its allies, and began repeatedly referring to Kim as “Little Rocket Man.”
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, promised on Friday the US would work to rebuild North Korea’s sanctions-crippled economy if it agreed to surrender its nuclear arsenal. But sceptics warned that Pyongyang has yet to make any public commitment to give up its arsenal. In October 2007, North Korea committed to disable key nuclear facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear facility by the end of the year in exchange for economic assistance from the US State Department. However North Korea did not meet its commitments.
kw / rc (AP, Reuters, dpa)