North Korea to blow up nuke-site tunnels before Trump-Kim talks

North Korea to blow up nuke-site tunnels before Trump-Kim talks

North Korea will publicly dismantle the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site in the next two weeks, according to state media.

North Korea plans to dismantle its nuclear testing facility, as it pledged, between May 23 and 25 based on the weather, its central news agency announced on Saturday.

North Korea says it will hold a "ceremony" for the dismantling of its nuclear test site on May 23-25 in what would be a dramatic but symbolic event to set up leader Kim Jong Un's summit with President Donald Trump next month.

The North Korean leader revealed during the summit that his country plans to publicly close the test site, announcing experts and journalists from foreign countries will be invited.

Given the limited space, only journalists from South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Britain will be invited to cover the dismantling on-site, the ministry added.

"In parallel with dismantlement of the nuclear test ground, guards and researchers will be withdrawn and the surrounding area of the test ground be completely closed", the statement said.

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

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

Experts have said the pledge to dismantle the test site is a big step forward but verifying it will be hard.

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

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.

North Korea's climb down on nuclear weapons comes after Trump determinedly maintained a raft of economic sanctions against the country.

He is now set for the first ever face-to-face meeting between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

In June 2008, worldwide broadcasters were allowed to air the demolishing of a cooling tower at the Nyongbyon reactor site, a year after the North reached an agreement with the USA and four other nations to disable its nuclear facilities in return for an aid package worth about $400 million.

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