North Korea 'taking measures' to dismantle nuclear site

North Korea 'taking measures' to dismantle nuclear site

"The DPRK will, also in the future, promote close contacts and dialogue with the neighbouring countries and the worldwide society so as to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the globe", the North Korean foreign ministry statement carried by KCNA said Saturday.

One week before the inter-Korean summit on April 27, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced plans to dismantle the nuclear test site.

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

According to Saturday's statement, the Foreign Ministry would invite local press, but worldwide media would be limited to journalists from China, Russia, South Korea, Britain and the United States, due to the testing ground's "small space".

All global journalists will be provided with a charter flight into Wonsan, a port city in eastern North Korea, from Beijing, KCNA said.

But sceptics warn that Pyongyang has yet to make any public commitment to give up its arsenal, which includes missiles capable of reaching the United States. In another sign of improving relations, North Korea this week released three USA citizens who had been imprisoned in the country.

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"In parallel with dismantlement of the nuclear test ground, guards and researchers will be withdrawn and the surrounding area of the test ground be completely closed", it added.

The test tunnels would be blown up, blocking their entries, the statement said.

The summit will be the first meeting ever between a sitting U.S. president and the leader of North Korea.

Tensions had been mounting for years as Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes saw it subjected to multiple rounds of increasingly strict sanctions by the UN Security Council, the US, EU, South Korea and others, and Trump last year threatened the North with "fire and fury". North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests at this site.

In June 2008, global broadcasters were allowed to air the demolishing of a cooling tower at the Nyongbyon reactor site, a year after the North reached an agreement with the US and four other nations to disable its nuclear facilities in return for an aid package worth about $400 million. "North Korea's nuclear test center will be discarded in order to ensure the transparency of the suspension of the nuclear test".

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