Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

North Korea 'taking measures' to dismantle nuclear site: KCNA

North Korea 'taking measures' to dismantle nuclear site: KCNA

North Korea announced Saturday it is taking "technical measures" to dismantle its northern nuclear test site, moving closer to honoring an offer made by its leader Kim Jong-un during the inter-Korean summit last month.

"A ceremony for dismantling the nuclear test ground is now scheduled between May 23 and 25", depending on weather conditions, the Foreign Ministry's statement said.

The test tunnels would be blown up, blocking their entries, the statement said.

Washington is seeking the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation" of the North.

But sceptics warn that Pyongyang has yet to make any public commitment to give up its arsenal, which includes missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Kim has declared the development of the North's nuclear force complete and that it had no further need for the site.

All observation facilities and research institutes would be removed, along with guards, it said, "and the surrounding area of the test ground be completely closed".

According to Saturday's statement, the Foreign Ministry would invite local press, but worldwide media would be limited to journalists from China, Russia, South Korea, Britain and the United States, due to the testing ground's "small space".

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This week the North released three Korean-Americans it had detained into the care of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was making his second trip to Pyongyang in two months.

"The North will shut down a nuclear test site in the country's northern side to prove the vow to suspend nuclear test".

This will uphold its pledge to discontinue nuclear tests, state media said on Saturday.

"From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)", KCNA said at the time.

North Korea's reference to such activity is created to communicate that even without underground testing, the country intends to maintain its nuclear arsenal and be a "responsible" steward of those weapons at the same time, said Andrea Berger, a senior analyst at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

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.

Until recently, Mr Kim and Mr Trump had been trading personal insults and threats, heightening tensions over North Korea's nuclear programme.

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