North Korea to hold ‘ceremony’ for dismantling nuclear test site this month
North Korea has said it will invite international journalists to witness the dismantlement of its nuclear test site and explosive demolition of the site’s tunnel system later this month, according to state media.
- North Korea will invite international journalists and experts from the US and South Korea
- Kim Jong-un will meet with Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12
- The dismantlement will involve collapsing tunnels with explosions, blocking entrances and removing observation facilities
The destruction of the site, which follows a pledge to discontinue nuclear tests, will take place sometime between May 23 and 25 depending on weather conditions.
The country’s central news agency said it would involve collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts.
North Korea’s six known nuclear tests have taken place in Punggye-ri, a location in the north-eastern part of North Korea where a system of tunnels has been dug under Mount Mantap.
“The Nuclear Weapon Institute and other concerned institutions are taking technical measures for dismantling the northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) in order to ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test,” said the announcement.
The North said it planned to invite journalists from the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Britain to inspect the process.
The announcement comes after US President Donald Trump said he would hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12.
It will be the first meeting ever between a sitting US president and the leader of North Korea.
It follows a flurry of international engagement with North Korea as the two Koreas held their own summit in late April, and officials plan to hold high-level meetings in coming weeks.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met inside the Demilitarized Zone. (AP: Korea Summit Press Pool)
Mr Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday North Korea could look forward to “a future brimming with peace and prosperity” if it agreed to quickly give up its nuclear weapons.
Officials in Seoul had said in April that North Korea planned to invite experts and journalists from the United States and South Korea for the shutdown of its test site.
North Korea said journalists from other countries would be invited to cover the event, to “show in a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground to be carried out”.
In order to accommodate the travelling journalists, North Korea said various measures would be taken including “opening territorial air space”.
All international journalists would be provided with a charter flight into Wonsan, a port city in eastern North Korea, from Beijing, KCNA said.
There, reporters would board a charter train to the nuclear test ground in an “uninhabited deep mountain area”.
Experts have said the pledge to dismantle the test site was a big step forward but verifying it would be difficult.