Multiple news outlets are reporting that North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test ground will be dismantled using explosives sometime between May 23-25. This follows a joint statement signed in late April by Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in which the leaders agreed to “complete denuclearization.”
A North Korean state media press release (translated by KCNA Watch) was released on Saturday, reading in part:
Dismantlement of the nuclear test ground will be done in the following sequence – making all tunnels of the test ground collapse by explosion; completely blocking entries; removing all observation facilities, research institutes and structures of guard units on the ground.
State media added that journalists from China, Russia, South Korea, the United States, and the U.K. will be invited to “conduct on-the-spot coverage” in the name of transparency.
The state news press release concluded by noting that “the DPRK will, also in the future, promote close contacts and dialogue with the neighboring countries and the international society so as to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the globe.”
However, as NBC News reported in April, satellite photos appeared to confirm that parts of the underground structure at Punggye-ri had collapsed after North Korea’s most recent test in September 2017, meaning the closure of the site would be essentially symbolic.
The coming months will likely reveal whether Kim Jong-Un is serious about peace, or if his talk of denuclearization is simply an elaborate scheme designed to generate good will and other benefits.