NKorea plans to de­stroy test site

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - WORLD - BY KIM TONG-HYUNG As­so­ci­ated Press

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korea said Sat­ur­day that it will dis­man­tle its nu­clear test site in less than two weeks, in a dra­matic event that would set up leader Kim Jong Un’s sum­mit with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump next month. Trump wel­comed the “gra­cious ges­ture.”

In a state­ment car­ried by state me­dia, North Korea’s For­eign Min­istry said all of the tun­nels at the coun­try’s north­east­ern test­ing ground will be de­stroyed by ex­plo­sion, and ob­ser­va­tion and re­search fa­cil­i­ties and ground-based guard units will also be re­moved.

Kim had al­ready re­vealed plans to shut the test site by the end of May dur­ing his sum­mit with South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in last month. An­a­lysts say that while the clo­sure of the site is im­por­tant, it doesn’t rep­re­sent a ma­te­rial step to­ward full de­nu­cle­ariza­tion.

“A cer­e­mony for dis­man­tling the nu­clear test ground is now sched­uled be­tween May 23 and 25,” depend­ing on weather, the For­eign Min­istry’s state­ment said, ad­ding that jour­nal­ists from the United States, South Korea, China, Rus­sia and Bri­tain will be in­vited to wit­ness the dis­man­tling.

The min­istry said the North will con­tinue to “pro­mote close con­tacts and dia­logue with the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and the in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety so as to safe­guard peace and sta­bil­ity on the Korean Penin­sula and over the globe.”

Trump, in a tweet Sat­ur­day, thanked North Korea for its plan to dis­man­tle the nu­clear test site, calling it “a very smart and gra­cious ges­ture!”

Fol­low­ing the Moon-Kim meet­ing, Moon’s of­fice said Kim was will­ing to dis­close the process to in­ter­na­tional ex­perts, but the North’s state­ment Sat­ur­day didn’t ad­dress al­low­ing ex­perts on the site.

South Korea had no im­me­di­ate re­sponse to the state­ment.

[AP FILE PHOTO]

A 60-foot-tall cool­ing tower is de­mol­ished at a main re­ac­tor com­plex on June 27, 2008 in Yong­byon North Korea.

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