Trump welcomes N Korea's nuclear site plan

Jonathan Ernst- RC1FEF

Jonathan Ernst- RC1FEF

US researchers say recent satellite imagery shows that North Korea has begun dismantling facilities at its nuclear test site.

The monitoring group said several key operational buildings as well as smaller sheds had been razed and rails connecting the tunnels to their waste piles were removed.

If North Korea follows through on its pledge to fully give up its nuclear weapons program and end years of hostility toward the US and its allies, American companies stand ready to put tens of millions of dollars into the reclusive country to help bring it into the 21st century, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday morning.

His remarks come ahead of an unprecedented summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore on June 12, at which North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes are expected to dominate the agenda.

The South Korean government, which had expected North Korea to invite nuclear experts and global watchdogs for the shutdown process, said it remains to be seen whether Pyongyang maintains its stance.

Still, the report said, "no tunnel entrances appear to have yet been permanently closed".

From the outset, there was little reason to think that North Korea would agree to surrender its nuclear weapons and the infrastructure and labs required to build them.

The United States and South Korea have welcomed the announcement as the beginning of North Korea's nuclear disarmament.


More explosions would be unnecessarily risky, but there are steps North Korea could take to make the shutdown more credible and safe, said Suh Kune-yull, professor of nuclear energy systems engineering at Seoul National University.

He added, "We can create conditions for real economic prosperity for the North Korean people that will rival that of the South, and that is our expectation". Some experts noted that North Korea over the course of its six nuclear tests probably learned how to prevent radiation leaks.

"It's nothing but a show to destroy evidence of previous nuclear tests", said Chun Young-woo, former national security adviser for conservative President Lee Myung-bak.

North Korea's pledge no longer to carry out unannounced missile tests or other activities that put flights at risk may be seen as the latest sign that the isolated nation is prepared to engage with the world.

Global journalists will be invited to conduct "on-the-spot coverage in order to show in a transparent manner" how the nuclear site is being put out of use, with a dismantlement "ceremony" scheduled for as early as May 23, depending on weather, the news agency said.

Some experts believe Kim may try to drag out the process or seek a deal in which he gives away his intercontinental ballistic missiles but retains some of his shorter-range arsenal in return for a reduced US military presence in the South.

The North has vowed to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its 28,500 troops from South Korea and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

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