North Korea nuclear crisis

Donald Trump thanks North Korea for ‘gracious gesture’ after it says it will dismantle nuclear test site

Pyongyang says the exact date will depend on the weather, and that the world’s media will be invited to the ‘dismantling’ ceremony

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 May, 2018, 9:44pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 May, 2018, 11:11pm

US President Donald Trump thanked North Korea on Saturday after it announced that it would dismantle its nuclear test site this month. 

“North Korea has announced that they will dismantle Nuclear Test Site this month, ahead of the big Summit Meeting on June 12th,” he tweeted. 

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“Thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture!”

“A ceremony for dismantling the nuclear test ground is now scheduled between May 23 and 25, depending on weather condition,” North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said, citing a foreign ministry press release.

The test tunnels will be blown up, blocking their entry points, while observation facilities and research institutes will be removed along with guards and researchers, the statement said.

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.

The limit on foreign journalists was due to the “small space of the test ground” which it said was “located in the uninhabited deep mountain area”.

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

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In a dramatic turnaround after Kim and Trump had traded threats of war and personal insults, the young North Korean leader vowed to pursue denuclearisation at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month.

He is now set for the first ever face-to-face meeting between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

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

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised on Friday that the US would work to rebuild North Korea’s sanctions-crippled economy if it agreed to surrender its nuclear arsenal.

However, he said that sanctions would not be lifted until after a thorough vetting process that guaranteed the nuclear programme had been scrapped.

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North Korean foreign ministry statement also suggested that the government might be more open to such international ties.

“The DPRK will, also in the future, promote close contacts and dialogue with the neighbouring countries and the international society so as to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the globe,” it said.