Welcome move by North Korea


South Korea's president has welcomed North Korea's decision to dismantle its nuclear test site, calling it a start to its nuclear disarmament.

THE worldwide community is unanimous in welcoming and appreciating the announcement made by North Korea that it will begin dismantling its nuclear test site in less than two weeks in a ceremony to be attended by foreign journalists.

However, no observers from global atomic monitoring agencies, according to reports, have been invited.

A number of buildings have been demolished at North Korea's nuclear test site, according to satellite photos made public on Monday, providing proof for the first time that work is underway to dismantle the site. "Some of the rails for the mining carts, which had led from the tunnels to their respective spoil piles, have apparently been removed", the report said.

Excavation of a new tunnel has also been halted since late March, it added.

"It is conceivably for a future camera position to record the closure of the West Portal", the group said.

The official Korean Central New Agency said it would take place between May 23 and 25 and involve collapsing all the site's tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances, and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts.

The move comes weeks ahead of a historic meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump during which the two countries will talk about denuclearisation.

Kim had already revealed plans to shut the test site by the end of May during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month.

The two Koreas are due to meet for a high-level meeting on Wednesday to discuss follow-up measures from their summit last month, Seoul's unification ministry said. However, a final attempt by Bush to complete an agreement to fully dismantle North Korea's nuclear weapons program collapsed that December when the North refused to accept USA -proposed verification methods. In June 2008, global broadcasters were allowed to show the demolishing of a cooling tower at the Nyongbyon reactor site, a year after the North reached an agreement with the USA and four other nations to disable its nuclear facilities in return for an aid package worth about $400 million.

The objective of the new buildings at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre was unknown, 38 North has said, with "no observable signs that initial reactor operations are imminent".