North Korea Sets Date for Shutting Down Its Nuclear Test Site

Pompeo says US ready to provide N Korea with assurances if it denuclearises

North Korea Sets Date for Shutting Down Its Nuclear Test Site

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced that it will hold a ceremony for the dismantling of its nuclear test site on May 23-25, state media said Saturday.

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

Washington is seeking the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation" of the North. "It will make it more hard for Kim Jong Un to deny inspections now that he has placed them on the table".

Kim has declared the development of the North's nuclear force complete and that it had no further need for the site.

"Dismantlement of the nuclear test ground will be done in the following sequence - making all tunnels of the test ground collapse by explosion; completely blocking entries; removing all observation facilities, research institutes and structures of guard units on the ground", the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The isolated Asian nation, which had already pledged to begin dismantling the site this month, will invite journalists from China, Russia, the USA, the United Kingdom and South Korea to cover the event, KCNA said in the statement.

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

Pompeo says US ready to provide N Korea with assurances if it denuclearises

Punggye-ri has hosted all six of the North's nuclear tests, the latest and by far the most powerful in September previous year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb.

The spectacle of the North shuttering and even destroying its nuclear facilities is not new.

North Korea has invited the outside world to witness the dismantling of its nuclear facilities before.

In June 2008, global 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 US and four other nations to disable its nuclear facilities in return for an aid package worth about $400 million.

The administration of George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list in October 2008 after the country agreed to continue disabling its nuclear plant. "North Korea's nuclear test center will be discarded in order to ensure the transparency of the suspension of the nuclear test".

Not only was it later revealed North Korea was secretly enriching uranium, but the rogue nation conducted its second nuclear test less than one year later in May 2009.

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