Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

North Korea Begins Dismantling Nuclear Test Site

North Korea Begins Dismantling Nuclear Test Site

On his personal impression of Kim, Pompeo said the North Korean leader was "very knowledgeable in the sense of he knows the files".

North Korea gave details on Saturday on the planned dismantling of the Punggye-ri site where it is believed to have carried out all six of its nuclear tests.

"To my understanding, the North Korean side has not raised this kind of request to the Chinese side", a spokesman for China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

They will then go by train to the nuclear site, then return on May 26 or May 27, the South Korean ministry said in a statement, citing a North Korean notice.

Moreover, none of the tunnel entrances appear to have been permanently closed, according to 38 North.

South Korea has said Kim has genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons in return for economic benefits. But it remains unclear if Kim would ever fully relinquish the weapons he probably views as his only guarantee of survival.

North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of "denuclearization" that bears no resemblance to the American definition. In return, the U.S.is willing to help the impoverished nation strengthen its economy.

In his April 20 statement announcing the Punggye-ri closing, Kim said the country's efforts to build a warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile had progressed to the point where tests were no longer necessary.


North Korea pledged to close the testing ground after Kim last month declared the country's nuclear force complete and said it had no further need for the complex.

Satellite photos from last month showed signs of construction at the North's Yongbyon nuclear facility.

But despite the commitment, North Korea is not a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as it withdrew in 2003. Still, analysts say the closure wouldn't represent a material step toward full denuclearization.

North Korea blew up a cooling tower at the nuclear facility in 2007 following a deal with the United States, but soon restarted the reactor. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, during a news programme in May.

A group of officials, including Ryu Myong-son, department director of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, and Kim Nung-o, head of the party's North Pyongan Central Committee, were seen visiting Beijing, according to the sources.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department says the U.S. has not heard anything directly from Pyongyang or Seoul that would change that.

The administration of George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list in October 2008 after the country agreed to continue disabling its nuclear plant.

Prof. Kim argued that North Korea's nuclear warheads, intercontinental missiles and nuclear materials should be sent overseas after verification.

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