Dismantling of North Korea nuclear site 'well under way': U.S. monitor

Dismantling of North Korea nuclear site 'well under way': U.S. monitor

North Korea has said it will completely dismantle the site, including collapsing the tunnels and blocking the entrances sometime between May 23 and May 25.

"The Nuclear Weapon Institute and other concerned institutions are taking technical measures for dismantling the northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK in order to ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test", North Korea's state media reported Saturday.

The ventilation system for the tunnel system under Mount Mantap, which covers the testing facilities, also was apparently being broken down, the report added.

South Korea's deputy nuclear envoy Jeong Yeon-doo will visit the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna this week to discuss the "complete denuclearisation of North Korea" the foreign ministry said on Sunday. "The White House underscored the importance of shutting down the test site and allowing thorough inspection and verification by nuclear specialists".

When asked if human rights would be on the agenda at the summit, for example, Pompeo said: "America's interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon into LA or Denver".

North Korea announced last month that it "no longer need [s]" nuclear and missile tests because the country has "verified the completion of nuclear weapons". "In other words, nuclear weapons have become an indispensable ingredient in the cult of personality surrounding the Kim dynasty".

Pompeo dangled the prospect of a gusher of USA investment in North Korea, with upgrades in energy, infrastructure, technology and agriculture, if a deal is struck.

David Beasley said he had enjoyed unprecedented access to the secretive state, telling BBC radio that North Korea's leaders had a "sense of optimism".

North Korea DMZ
EPA TENSIONS South Korean troops in the Demilitarised Zone on the border with North Korea

But he has done nothing that would indicate he plans to give up his nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.

The Cold War-era allies have stepped up contacts in recent weeks as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un prepares for a historic summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. Trump welcomed the "gracious gesture".

Dialogue brokered by South Korea has seen US-North Korea relations go from trading personal insults and threats of war past year to a summit between Kim and Trump which will be held in Singapore on 12 June. Pompeo said that such a move would be a huge boost to the country's economic prosperity and could develop a financial relationship that "will rival" that of South Korea and the U.S.

"It's a game changer in terms of the diplomacy, certainly".

"I think Chairman Kim understands that: I think he appreciates the fact that this (summit meeting with Trump) is going to have to be different and big and special, and something that has never been undertaken before".

"This is completely flipping the script on that, and so it will start at the highest possible levels".

Such a seemingly eased USA stance is likely to give more room for the two adversaries to strike a big deal at the upcoming summit. Such facilities can be replaced as easily as the Yongbyon cooling tower.

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