Korea to destroy nuclear site ahead of U.S. summit

Pauline Gross
May 16, 2018

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert defended joint US-South Korean military exercises Tuesday and said the US had not heard of any disruptions to either the planned exercises or the upcoming summit.

The North invited four reporters each from wire news and broadcasting companies for the event to be held from May 23-25 to dismantle the Punggye-ri site, where the North has carried out all six of its nuclear denotation tests, according to the ministry.

"[We] no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission", Kim said, according to the Korean Central News Agency. The presidential office also said that the invitation of journalists from various countries meant that the dismantlement of nuclear site would be transparent.

The site's closure was set to come before Mr Kim and Mr Trump's summit, which had been shaping up to be a crucial moment in the global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear stand-off with the North.

Speaking on Monday at a forum at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington D.C. the former Obama official rebuked the commonly heard criticism in recent days that Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran deal would undermine US credibility in the eyes of North Korean regime and make it harder to reach a peace deal.

Pyongyang for decades has been pushing a concept of "denuclearization" that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its 28,500 troops from South Korea and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

But the USA "will have to provide security assurances to be sure", Pompeo said, without elaborating on details.

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The newspaper said the Punggye-ri site, situated near Mount Mantap in northeastern North Korea, was "wrecked" beyond fix by a landslide. The site is where 5 of the past 6 nuclear tests were conducted.

A report on North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) denounced the joint Max Thunder drills between the South Korean and United States air forces, calling it a rehearsal for the invasion of the North. If the Trump team doesn't play its cards right, we could end up with more of the war rhetoric - and even military actions - that dominated the Korean Peninsula in 2017.

Bolton said the U.S. side also will discuss not just North Korea's nuclear and missile programs but its chemical and biological weapons arsenal as well.

Not everyone shared the optimism over Pyongyang's nuclear pledge.

Observation and research facilities and ground-based guard units will also be removed, the North said.

Mr. Pompeo said there are still many details that must be worked out between the two sides, but that the administration is all in on negotiations.

Top officials of North Korea's Workers' Party are in China to get a better understanding of economic reform, according to Beijing's foreign ministry.

Other reports by GizPress

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