North Korea Begins Dismantling Nuclear Test Site

Mike Pompeo Fox News Screen Shot 2018 05 13

North Korea's plan to close the site has been welcomed by Washington, Seoul and the United Nations secretary general.

North Korea has carried out six underground nuclear tests-including the last and most powerful one in September 2017-at the Punggye-ri site.

South Korea's president on Monday welcomed the announcement as the beginning of North Korea's nuclear disarmament. Still, analysts say the closure wouldn't represent a material step toward full denuclearization.

A number of buildings have been demolished at North Korea's nuclear test site, according to satellite photos made public on Monday, providing proof for the first time that work is underway to dismantle the site.

The analysis said that could be because North Korea has promised to invite foreign journalists to witness the site's final dismantling.

However, according to experts, "more significant buildings around the site are still untouched".

While North Korea appears to be dismantling its nuclear test site ahead of its first-ever summit with the United States next month, doubts persist over whether Pyongyang will uphold its pledge for complete denuclearization, due to the lack of a thorough verification process.

Look, we'll have to see how the negotiations proceed, but make no mistake about it: America's interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon into [Los Angeles] or Denver or into the very place we're sitting here this morning, Chris.

But there are lingering doubts about whether Kim will ever agree to fully relinquish his nukes.

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[I] t's also possible North Korea no longer needs the site. This could satisfy Trump but undermine the alliance between Washington and Seoul.

North Korea's move comes ahead of Kim Jong-un's much-anticipated summit with Donald Trump in Singapore on 12 June.

North Korea announced at a ruling party meeting last month that it was suspending all tests of nuclear devices and ICBMs, as well as the plan to close the nuclear testing ground.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the worldwide organization that keeps watch for nuclear tests, said it has yet to be invited to observe the dismantlement, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday. Dismantling test field may show a desire not to continue trials, but it does not imply that country is willing to deliver its nuclear arsenal.

The reclusive state also released three USA citizens imprisoned in North Korea as newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang for a second time last week to prepare for Donald Trump's upcoming summit.

A top defector said that North Korea will never completely give up its nuclear weapons.

"I think they're done testing".

North Korea blew up a cooling tower at the nuclear facility in 2007 following a deal with the USA, but soon restarted the reactor.

But in September 2008, the North declared that it would resume reprocessing plutonium, complaining that Washington wasn't fulfilling its promise to remove the country from the USA list of state sponsors of terrorism. When agreement derailed, country took a few years to modernize facility and re-activate its main nuclear reactor. These talks are a part of a world diplomatic push to resolve the difficulty of Pyongyang's nuclear program.

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