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N. Korea to hold 'ceremony' for dismantling nuke test site

12 May 2018

North Korea is "taking technical measures" to dismantle its nuclear test site, state media said on Saturday, May 12, in the latest dramatic step ahead of a historic summit between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump next month.

Pyongyang has scheduled the dismantlement of its nuclear test site for sometime between May 23 and 25 depending on the weather.

Following the Moon-Kim summit, Moon's office said Kim was willing to disclose the process to global experts, but the North's statement Saturday didn't include any mention about allowing experts on the site.

Washington is seeking the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation" of the North.

Kim also offered to make the dismantling public.

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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 North has been vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its 28,500 troops from South Korea and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

The North's foreign ministry issued a press release, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), detailing the country's plans to shut down its Pyunggye-ri nuclear test ground.

Reporters from China, Russia, the United States, Britain and South Korea would be allowed to "conduct on-the-spot coverage in order to show in a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground", the foreign ministry statement said.

It is the latest move in a rapid sequence of events on the Korean peninsula triggered by the Winter Olympics in the South.

North Korea has declared its nuclear forces complete late past year after its most powerful nuclear test to date in September and the launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles that experts say are capable of hitting most, if not all, of the continental United States.

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Kim had already revealed plans to shut down the test site by the end of May during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month.

But the phrase is a diplomatic euphemism open to interpretation on both sides.

Kim declared his nuclear force as complete in December, following North Korea's most powerful nuclear test to date in September and three flight tests of ICBMs created to reach the USA mainland.

Trump's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday North Korea can look forward to "a future brimming with peace and prosperity" if it agrees to quickly give up its nuclear weapons.

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N. Korea to hold 'ceremony' for dismantling nuke test site