S. Korea hails DPRK's pledge to dismantle nuke test site

Sunday, 13 May, 2018

"North Korea has announced that they will dismantle Nuclear Test Site this month, ahead of the big Summit Meeting [between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore] on June 12th. We welcome this", the presidential office said in a statement.

"The invitation of journalists from various countries also means that the dismantlement of nuclear site will be transparent for the worldwide community", the presidential office noted.

Punggye-ri has hosted all six of the North's nuclear tests, the latest and by far the most powerful in September past year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb. The exact date will depend on weather conditions.

"China welcomes the positive progress made by North Korea and the United States in preparing the leaders' meeting", Geng told reporters at a regularly scheduled briefing. The officials also said, a ceremony will be held where worldwide media will observe the dismantling.

The journalists will be provided with a charter flight from Beijing to the North Korean coastal city of Wonsan, from where they will travel by train to the test site.

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South Korea's presidential Blue House on Sunday hailed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s pledge to dismantle its nuclear test site.

Kim said during the meeting that the nuclear test site's mission had come "to an end" because the North had completed developing nuclear-capable intermediate-range missiles, ICBMs and other strike means.

The North went on to conduct its second nuclear test in May 2009.

But US intelligence officials have said it remains usable and could be reactivated "in a relatively short period of time" if it was closed. "They have what they need so the way in which they collapse the tunnels is just show", said Melissa Hanham, senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

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. However, a final attempt by Bush to complete an agreement to fully dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program collapsed that December when the North refused to accept USA -proposed verification methods. However, he said the other crucial steps North Korea needed to take to demilitarize its nuclear program were to shut its plutonium production reactor, and open its uranium processing to inspection.