United Nations chief welcomes North Korean plan to close nuclear site

People watch a TV screen reporting that North Korea will dismantle nuke test site during a news programme at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul. Ahn Young-joon  AP

People watch a TV screen reporting that North Korea will dismantle nuke test site during a news programme at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul. Ahn Young-joon  AP

Punggye-ri, in the northeast of the country, has been the site of all six of the North's nuclear tests, the latest and by far the most powerful in September a year ago, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb. Moon welcomed Kim's plans to publicly blow up North Korea's nuclear test facility.

However, analysts believe the closure of the site is largely symbolic and doesn't represent a material step towards denuclearisation.

The Foreign Ministry explained that journalists from Russia, UK, China, the Republic of Korea and the United States will be invited to the ceremony.

The statement Saturday gave greater details of the "technical measures" North Korea would take to dismantle the test site and "ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test".

Perhaps more importantly, though, Saturday's statement did not mention invitations to experts or worldwide inspectors, and it was unclear if that offer had been rescinded.

Experts say that it is still a meaningful step toward denuclearization ahead of its unprecedented summit talks, to be held on June 12 with the US, where its nuclear weapons program will likely top the agenda.

Look, we'll have to see how the negotiations proceed, but make no mistake about it: America's interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon into [Los Angeles] or Denver or into the very place we're sitting here this morning, Chris. However, there are lingering doubts about whether Kim would ever agree to fully relinquish the weapons he probably views as his only guarantee of survival.

They will be the first such talks since the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to work toward peace and the "complete denuclearization" of the divided peninsula during their landmark April 27 summit, which was held in the border truce village of Panmunjom.

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"If North Korea has really made a decision to denuclearise, it has no reason not to invite them".

[I] t's also possible North Korea no longer needs the site.

The U.S. government began to mention specific economic compensations for the North as well. This could satisfy Trump but undermine the alliance between Washington and Seoul.

"North Korea has announced that they will dismantle Nuclear Test Site this month, ahead of the big Summit Meeting on June 12th", he tweeted.

According to the KCNA announcement, the North will invite local press, but global media will be limited to journalists from China, Russia, South Korea, Britain and the United States, due to the testing ground's "small space".

Pyongyang has said it does not need nuclear weapons if the security of its regime is guaranteed.

Kim has already declared his nuclear weapons and missile program as finished and the nuclear testing site's mission as completed.

North Korea, which is believed to manage a vast subterranean network in part to frustrate US and South Korean spies and military planners, probably has other locations that could house tests.

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