United Nations chief welcomes North Korean pledge to close nuclear site

15 May, 2018, 22:35 | Author: Edward Snyder
  • Donald Trump says North Korea is'very smart for planning to close nuclear site

North Korea will invite South Korean reporters from one news agency and from one television broadcaster to observe the dismantling of a nuclear test site between May 23 and May 25, South Korea's Ministry of Unification said on Tuesday.

"I would imagine that the plan is to sanitize the site to remove any sensitive information about the state of North Korea's nuclear weapons development, then invite in the journalists and experts to confirm that, yes, the site is now a ghost-town", Jeffrey Lewis and David Schmerler, both arms control experts, wrote in a separate blog post analysis satellite imagery.

What President Trump has demanded is the total elimination of the country's nuclear program - a process North Korea says is already under way.

This move came three days after North Korea released three Americans detained in the country for "anti-DPRK hostilities", at the suggestion of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Jong-un in North Korea on May 9 for the second time in a month.

"We hope that the sound of dynamite blowing up the Punggye-ri tunnels will be a gun salute in a journey toward a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons", Seoul's presidential spokesperson said.

Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the heavily militarized border that divides the two Koreas in late April and will hold a summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, the first ever meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader. Trump welcomed the "gracious gesture".




According to 38 North, the imagery from May 7 provides "definitive evidence" that dismantlement of the Punggye-ri test site is "well underway".

"All the things the North Korean people need - [including] the capacity for American agriculture to support North Korea so they can eat meat and have healthy lives", he said.

It will mark the first summit between a sitting United States president and a North Korean leader.

Last month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in had asked the United Nations to help verify the shutdown. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan would not resume normal ties with the country unless North Korea settles the row over the abduction of a dozen Japanese citizens between the 1970s and 1980s. The photos from Punggye-ri are consistent with a happy outcome of negotiations, but hardly a guarantee.

He said: "In the end, North Korea will remain a nuclear power packaged as a non-nuclear state".

In June 2008, worldwide broadcasters were allowed to show the demolishing of a cooling tower at the Nyongbyon reactor site, a year after the North reached an agreement with the USA and four other nations to disable its nuclear facilities in return for an aid package worth about $400 million. The southern and western portals could still support detonations, even if the northern side was badly damaged over the five nuclear tests conducted there, 38 North said April 30.

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