North Korea will destroy its nuclear test site three weeks before a historic meeting between the country’s leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.
The dismantling is expected to take place between May 23 and May 25, with journalists from the U.S., South Korea, China, the U.K. and Russia invited to attend, according to media reports citing North Korean state news agency KCNA on Saturday. The report said Pyongyang is undergoing “technical measures” to get the testing site ready to take apart.
Inviting foreign press to join local press would allow for “conduct on-the-spot coverage to show a transparent manner the dismantlement of the northern nuclear test ground,” the state news agency said, according to reports.
The limited of journalists is due to the fact the Punggye-ri test site is small and in “uninhabited deep mountain area,” said KCNA. It’s understood to be the only known nuclear test site for the nation. Dismantling it will involve collapsing all tunnels with explosives and taking down observation posts, research buildings and security posts.
The ceremony comes just weeks ahead of a meeting between Trump and Kim on June 12 in Singapore. Trump announced that date after welcoming three Americans freed by North Korea last week. He said the U.S. and North Korea were “starting off on a new footing,” after meeting the ex-detainees at Joint Base Andrews overnight on Thursday.
The Trump administration has also vowed to help North Korea’s struggling economy achieve prosperity if it gives up its nuclear arsenal at next month’s summit. However, it’s unclear how long that could take as Kim earlier this week stressed his interest in “phased and synchronous measures.”
Late last month, Kim and his counterpart from South Korea, Moon Jae-in, held historic talks in the demilitarized zone between the countries, where they agreed to try to dial down tensions between the two nations and begin talks with the U.S. and even China to try to declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War.