TOKYO – North Korea is expected to blow up its nuclear test facility on Thursday afternoon to show that despite the recent clashes, it is still prepared to embark on a diplomatic trip with the United States.
The North Korean regime has brought a group of foreign journalists to the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the mountainous northeast of the country to document the closure of the site. However, it did not allow an expert, which made it difficult to assess exactly what they had done.
Nonetheless, analysts said this was a step in the right direction, especially given Washington's and Pyongyang's threats to cancel a summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, scheduled to take place in Singapore next month.
This will be symbolic and a diplomatic first step, "said Frank Pabian, a former expert on nuclear non-proliferation and satellite imagery at Los Alamos National Laboratory." But in and of itself, nothing will change North Korea's nuclear capabilities. "[1
Kim agreed after a historic summit meeting with Korean President Moon Jae-in late last month to take a series of steps to show that he was serious about the United States, the declared enemy of the North.19959007] This included a plan for "complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" – a sentence Trump considered Kim who wanted to give up his weapons while most analysts said that this was the code for a long time Wierigen process under both the sides would have to make concessions.
As the dispute over the definition of "denuclearization" continues, Bo th Trump and a high-ranking adviser to Kim's have announced the prospect of a cancellation of the June 12 summit. The North Korean regime has resisted in particular the repeated hints of the Trump government to Libya, which relinquished its nuclear weapons in return for sanctions. The Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was overthrown and brutally murdered a few years later.
However, North Korea seems to have proceeded with its promise to demolish the area where all six nuclear tests took place.
A total of 30 journalists, all from television broadcasters with the exception of four South Korean print reporters, were brought to the test site overnight on Wednesday.
They left Wonsan on the North Korean east coast around 6 pm. Local time, for a 300-mile journey, which the reporters said, would include a 12-hour train ride then four hours on a bus, followed by an hour or two of trekking through the mountains. That would have brought her to the test site at noon on Thursday.
Satellite images showed that observation platforms had been erected on the portals to the construction site as well as in the command center and in the main administration area.
But journalists will not be able to send pictures before they return to Wonsan, probably on Friday.
The restrictions were tight, and a journalist from "Russia Today" reported on the way to the side that the window was blind. The train was closed so they could not see. However, they were served a 10-course banquet on the train.
Journalists' equipment was closely scrutinized, with Sky News of the United Kingdom reporting that dosimeters were confiscated so that they could not measure how much, if any,
The nuclear test site is located about 10 miles north of the village of Punggye-ri consists of a series of tunnels under the mountains that are entered through four portals.
The East Portal, through which North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, has been abandoned for more than a decade and is no longer accessible by road.
The following five tests all took place over the North Portal. The last one, which was conducted in September, was widely considered to be a hydrogen blast. It caused a magnitude 6.3 earthquake on the site and had a yield of up to 250 kilotons. In comparison, the American atomic bomb that detonated Hiroshima in 1945 had a yield of about 15 kilotons of energy.
Since this test, there have been suggestions that Mount Mantap may be suffering from the "Mud Mountain Syndrome" and many experts say that the North Portals are now unusable.
However, the west and south portals were never used and were still considered viable for future testing.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry announced on May 12 that it would close the site by collapsing all the tunnels by means of explosions, then completely blocking the portals and removing all surrounding buildings, including research institutes and sentries.
"In parallel with the disassembly of the nuclear test soil, guards and researchers are being withdrawn and the area surrounding the site is completely closed," the ministry said in a statement.
Satellite images showed buildings around the portals in the run-up to the construction site closure.
Although no nuclear expert was allowed to attend the event, Pabian, who now writes for the specialist website 38 North, said that officials from organizations such as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization would still be able to run tests, if ever Access to the site would be granted.
The verdict has not yet decided whether North Korea is ready to discuss it seriously Denuclearization with the United States, with many analysts doubting Kim, would give up the weapons he considers essential for his legitimacy and for countering external threats ,
After Thursday's outbreak, when Pyongyang described Vice President Pence as a "political fool" to compare North Korea with Libya, analysts took note of Twitter with sarcasm remarks about how far countries are from each other.
"Yes, North Korea is Definitely Ready to Give Up its Atomic Bombs" James Acton of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace wrote with a wink.
But one thing would be clear if North Korea's Punggyerri site Thursday: It's done with its nuclear tests.
The North Korean state media called the nuclear test of last September a "perfect success" and said they had reached their "ultimate goal of completing state nuclear power" – a signal
Then, last month, when the inter-Korean summit At a meeting of the Pyongyang Labor Party, Kim said that no further testing was needed because the nuclear and missile programs were completed.
"The mission of the Northern Nuclear Test Site is over," Kim said, according to a government media report.
With the acquisition of this "mighty sword in defense of peace," North Koreans could now "enjoy the most dignified and happy life in the world," he said.
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