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North Korea has begun dismantling nuclear test site, experts say

15 May 2018

Days before his historic summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month, Kim announced plans to close his Punggye-ri testing ground in the country's mountainous northeast.

According to 38 North, the imagery shows several key operational support buildings have been razed, and that some of the rails for mining carts - which had led from the tunnels to their respective spoil piles - have apparently been removed. After a half dozens tests over a period of more than a decade, some experts believe that Pyongyang is far enough along in its nuclear weapons development that it no longer has to detonate bombs underground to move its program along.

When asked if human rights would be on the agenda at the summit, for example, Pompeo said: "America's interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon into LA or Denver".

However, analysts say the last five nuclear tests were all conducted using the same tunnel, and that although that tunnel may be damaged beyond fix, the North Koreans could dig others for potential future tests.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that the United States will need to "provide security assurances" to North Korea's Kim Jong Un if the adversaries are to reach a nuclear deal, describing the stakes of President Donald Trump's upcoming summit with Kim. Trump welcomed the "gracious gesture".

Journalists from China, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and South Korea will be invited to witness the dismantling process.

The North Korean announcement said the ceremony would take place between May 23 and 25, weather permitting.

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Among m is commitment to stop hostile acts on both sides of border, open a joint office in border town of Kaesong (North Korea), establish ways of economic cooperation or prepare next meeting of separate families By Korean War, reports agency Korean Yonhap.

Experts say that it is still a meaningful step toward denuclearization ahead of its unprecedented summit talks, to be held on June 12 with the USA, where its nuclear weapons program will likely top the agenda.

Kim first revealed his plans during a summit last month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. As such, it said, it would shutter the Punggye-ri site.

A move like denuclearisation would conflict the integral power structure of North Korea, Thae added.

While satellite imagery indicates that the north portal of the test-site has been abandoned after the damage caused by the quake, two of the other areas, approximately 2.5 and 3.5 kilometers from the peak of the mountain, remain accessible through the south and west portals.

The same three authors who looked at the most recent satellite imagery for 38 North wrote after last year's test that imagery taken then appeared "to show numerous landslides throughout the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site and beyond".

North Korea has begun dismantling nuclear test site, experts say