North Korea ‘demolishes’ nuclear test facility

Pyongyang’s apparent gesture of goodwill came hours before Trump pulled out of summit with Kim, citing ‘hostility’.

North Korea
North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility is shown in this DigitalGlobe satellite image [DigitalGlobe/Reuters]

North Korea has carried out what it says is the demolition of its nuclear test site in the presence of foreign journalists.

The demolition happened on Thursday at the Punggye-ri site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated northeast.

The dismantling of the nuclear test site was previously announced by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ahead of a planned summit with US President Donald Trump next month in Singapore.

Trump announced he would not attend the summit, scheduled for June 12, later on Thursday. 

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The North’s decision to close the site had been seen as a gesture by Kim to set a positive tone for the now-cancelled summit.

Even so, it is not an irreversible move and would need to be followed by many more significant measures for Pyongyang to meet Washington’s demands for a full denuclearisation.

The Korean Peninsula has seen a period of seemingly warming relations since an inter-Korea summit in April, when the two Koreas pledged to sign peace deal and pursue “complete” denuclearisation.

The announcement came shortly after North Korea threatened to walk away from the Singapore summit with Trump, if the US continued to do what it described as “unlawful and outrageous acts” that could damage Pyongyang’s “goodwill”.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Thursday that her country “will neither beg the US for dialogue, nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us”, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

Source: AP