Dis­man­tling of N. Korea Nu­clear Site Un­der Way

Iran News - - INTERNATIONAL -

SEOUL (Dis­patches) - Satel­lite pho­tos in­di­cate North Korea has be­gun dis­man­tling its nu­clear test site ahead of a his­toric sum­mit be­tween leader Kim Jong Un and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, a U.S. mon­i­tor said Tues­day.

In a move wel­comed by Washington and Seoul, North Korea said at the week­end it will “com­pletely” de­stroy the Pung­gye-ri test site, in a cer­e­mony sched­uled be­tween May 23-25 in front of in­vited for­eign me­dia.

But no ob­servers from in­ter­na­tional atomic mon­i­tor­ing agen­cies have been in­vited, rais­ing con­cerns over the open­ness of the process.

Pung­gye-ri, in the north­east of the coun­try, has been the site of all six of the North’s nu­clear tests, the lat­est and by far the most pow­er­ful in Septem­ber last year, which Py­ongyang said was an H-bomb.

North Korea pledged to close the test­ing ground af­ter Kim last month de­clared the coun­try’s nu­clear force com­plete and said it had no fur­ther need for the com­plex.

The re­spected 38 North web­site said Tues­day that satel­lite im­ages dated May 7 showed “the first de­fin­i­tive ev­i­dence that dis­man­tle­ment of the test site was al­ready well un­der way”.

Sev­eral key op­er­a­tional build­ings as well as smaller sheds had been razed and rails con­nect­ing the tun­nels to their waste piles were re­moved, the mon­i­tor­ing group said.

Ex­ca­va­tion of a new tun­nel has also been halted since late March, it added.

Im­ages showed prepara­tory work for the de­struc­tion cer­e­mony had also be­gun, in­clud­ing a newly po­si­tioned foun­da­tion among the waste piles be­lieved to have been built for the in­vited jour­nal­ists.

“It is con­ceiv­ably for a fu­ture cam­era po­si­tion to record the clo­sure of the West Por­tal,” the group said.

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