North Korea dismantling nuclear test site as per satellite images
Seoul : North Korea has started to dismantle its nuclear test site, which it had pledged to close down after the inter-Korean summit on April 27, according to media reports on Tuesday.
“Commercial satellite imagery from May 7 provided the first definitive evidence that dismantlement of the test site was already well underway,” Efe news agency reported citing the 38 North website report that published and analysed satellite images of the site.
Pyongyang had announced it would publicly dismantle its Punggye-ri nuclear facility between May 23 and 25 by destroying the tunnels in the complex with explosions, blocking entrances and removing observation areas, research centres, and security structures.
According to the report, many key operational support buildings have been razed since their last analysis.
Some of the rails and mining carts used for excavation of the tunnels in the complex have also been dismantled and other small buildings have been removed.
During the summit, Pyongyang had pledged to work for a complete denuclearisation of the peninsula, having promised to stop its weapons tests earlier.
The commitments came ahead of a summit to be held between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the US President Donald Trump to discuss a possible end to Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
North Korea has carried out six underground nuclear tests—including the last and most powerful one in September 2017—at the Punggye-ri site.
A number of analysts have doubted North Korea’s commitment to the denuclearisation, citing the example of 2008, when Pyongyang publicly dismantled parts of its uranium reprocessing plant but kept developing its nuclear programme.
8 S Korean reporters invited for closure
Seoul : North Korea will invite eight South Korean journalists as part of an international media group to witness the closure of its nuclear test site next week, the South’s government said on Tuesday.
The closure of the site would be a dramatic event that would set up North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore next month.
The historic Trump-Kim meeting is shaping up to be a crucial moment in the global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea. Still, analysts say the site’s closure wouldn’t represent a material step toward full denuclearization.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry announced Saturday that journalists from South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Britain will be invited to observe the destruction of tunnels and the removal of observation and research facilities at the country’s northeastern testing ground. It said the dismantling would take place between May 23 and 25.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said it was informed by the North today that eight South Korean journalists will be invited. The North did not reveal the number of spots it will give to non-Korean journalists, according to the ministry.
The eight South Korean journalists – four each from a wire agency and a broadcaster that have yet to be determined – will take a chartered flight from Beijing to the North Korean coastal town of Wonsan on May 22, the ministry said. The reporters will then be transported by a chartered train to the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri.
Kim has already declared his nuclear weapons and missile program as finished and the nuclear testing site’s mission as completed. Some analysts question whether the dismantling of the site is aimed at destroying evidence. While South Korea’s presidential office had said that Kim told South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their summit last month that international experts will be invited to witness the closure, the North’s Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday did not include any references to allowing experts at the site.