North Korea Starts to Dismantle Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site

When the meeting was first agreed to in March relations seemed to be thawing between the two nations that have spent decades in conflict

North Korea Starts to Dismantle Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site

North Korea has started to dismantle its nuclear test site, which it had pledged to close down after the inter-Korean summit on April 27, according to media reports on Tuesday. The site analyzed images which show significant changes that have been made at the location which are consistent with decommissioning.

The site's closure would set up next month's historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, which is shaping up to be a crucial moment in the global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with the North.

Yonhap says the two-week military exercise between the US and South Korea started Friday. He did not specify what the military had seen.

Some of the rails and mining carts used for excavation of the tunnels in the complex have also been dismantled and other small buildings have been removed.

Earlier on May 12, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Korea announced in a public ceremony about the of closing the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site. To provide transparency, the ministry said journalists from South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Britain will be invited to observe the destruction of tunnels and the removal of observation and research facilities at the site. Her comment came shortly after South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported that the North was threatening to cancel the summit because of ongoing military exercises between the USA and South Korea. The reporters will then be transported by a chartered train to the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri.

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Six nuclear tests - including North Korea's most powerful test to date in September 2017 - have been carried out at the facility since Pyongyang began experiments in 2006.

It will mark the first summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

South Korea has said it hopes the summit will lead to "denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, as well as permanent peace on the peninsula".

Trump is expected to push North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons at the meeting in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions and USA assistance in rebuilding Pyongyang's ailing economy.

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