North Korea claims to have demolished its nuclear test site ahead of Donald Trump summit

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
North Korea says it has demolished its nuclear weapons test site (Rex)

North Korea says it has carried out the demolition of its nuclear test site with a series of explosions over several hours.

The blasts at the site, deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated north east, were centred on three tunnels into the underground site and a number of observation towers in the surrounding area.

The planned closing was previously announced by Kim Jong-un ahead of his summit with Donald Trump next month.

The explosions at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site were centred on three tunnels into the underground site and a number of observation towers in the surrounding area (Wikipedia)
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are set to meet in June (Reuters)

The North’s decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Mr Kim to set a positive tone ahead of the summit.

However, it would need to be followed by many more significant measures to meet Trump’s demands for real denuclearisation.

The North did not invite international inspectors to witness the demolition – but did invite foreign journalists.

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While the demolition may be welcome news, it came as the North called Vice President Mike Pence a ‘political dummy’, and saying it is just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table.

Pyongyang was trying to push back against comments suggesting North Korea may end up like Libya if it does not move forward quickly and irreversibly with concrete measures to get rid of its nuclear weapons.

Choe Son Hui, a vice minister of foreign affairs, was quoted by the North’s state-run news agency slamming as ‘ignorant’ and ‘stupid’ comments Mr Pence made in an interview with Fox News that compared the nuclear-capable North to Libya.

The demolition came as the North calling Vice President Mike Pence a ‘political dummy’ (Rex)

Libya gave up its programme at an early stage only to see its longtime dictator overthrown and brutally killed years later.

The summit plan has hit a number of speed bumps recently as both sides have begun trading barbs and taking tougher positions.

Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday at the White House for consultations and suggested the summit could be delayed or even called off entirely.