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Korea says taking 'technical measures' to dismantle nuclear test site

12 May 2018

Taking apart North Korea's nuclear weapons testing site will entail closing down tunnels housing explosives, shutting out entrances and taking apart buildings with research and observation facilities, as well as security stands.

The North's foreign ministry issued a press release, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), detailing the country's plans to shut down its Pyunggye-ri nuclear test ground.

Journalists from other countries, including the United States and South Korea, will be invited to cover the event.

North Korea is "taking technical measures" to dismantle its nuclear test site, state media said on Saturday, May 12, in the latest dramatic step ahead of a historic summit between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump next month.

Three US prisoners were returned to Washington by Pyongyang last week, with Trump saying the "denuclearisation of North Korea would be his proudest achievement".

Dialogue brokered by Seoul has seen US-North Korea relations go from trading personal insults and threats of war a year ago to a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump due in Singapore on June 12. 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 US -proposed verification methods.

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The ministry has also established the National Health Emergencies Council to expedite prevention of Ebola and other diseases. More than 11,000 people died in almost 30,000 confirmed cases in that outbreak, according to the World Health Organisation.

It follows a flurry of worldwide engagement with North Korea as the two Koreas held their own summit in late April and officials plan to hold high-level meetings in coming weeks.

Pompeo Friday promised the U.S. would work to rebuild North Korea's sanctions-crippled economy if it agreed to surrender its nuclear arsenal.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports that journalists from the US, South Korea, China, Russia and the United Kingdom will be invited to observe a ceremony marking the start of the process, which will be held at some point between 23 May and 25 May, depending on weather conditions.

The limit on foreign journalists was due to the "small space of the test ground" which it said was "located in the uninhabited deep mountain area".

"All worldwide journalists will be provided with (a) charter flight from Beijing to Wonsan", it said.

The North Korea-watching 38 North blog said on April 30 that synthetic aperture radar data of the test site corroborates Kim's statement that two tunnels remain viable.

Korea says taking 'technical measures' to dismantle nuclear test site