Seoul: South Korean journalists may not be allowed to cover the closure of Pyongyang’s nuclear test site, as the North Korean government has not accepted their visa applications, media reported on Saturday. This comes less than a week after they were reportedly invited.
The dismantlement “ceremony,” which will involve blowing up the tunnels under the sprawling complex known as Punggye-ri, could take place as early as May 23, CNN reported quoting North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as announcing on Saturday.
Journalists from China, Russia, South Korea, the US, and the UK were to be invited to watch for transparency’s sake.
Analysts said that only journalists are being allowed to watch but it’s not known if non-proliferation experts, with the technical know-how to properly verify the site’s closure, have been extended an invitation.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced in April that the country would shutter Punggye-ri, declaring that after six underground tests, the site had served its purpose, as the country has completed its quest to achieve nuclear weapons.
Analysts said satellite imagery shows that the North Koreans have already begun dismantling equipment.
Though Kim declared the site’s closure was due to the nuclear quest rather than acceding to global pressure, many in the international community saw his commitment to, no longer test nuclear weapons underground, as a positive step in the recent thaw in relations between North Korea and its adversaries.