SEOUL, South Korea South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday welcomed North Korea's announcement that it is set to dismantle its only nuclear test site, calling it a start to the country's nuclear disarmament.
"Several key operational support buildings, located just outside the North, West and South Portals, have been razed", the report noted, adding that the North appears to have removed some of the rails for mining carts, many of which have been disassembled.
North Korea has begun dismantling the country's only known nuclear test site, according to satellite photos, following through on a promise made by leader Kim Jong-un ahead of his meeting with Donald Trump.
The United States is prepared to offer North Korea security assurances and bountiful private investment if it makes the strategic choice to give up its nuclear weapons, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged Sunday.
The North has said it needs nuclear weapons to counter what it believes is a USA effort to strangle its economy and overthrow the Kim government.
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A statement issued during worldwide negotiations with North Korea in 2005 over its nuclear weapons development said the "United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade (North Korea) with nuclear or conventional weapons". "Thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture!" he tweeted.
According to Chinese academic reports, North Korea's most recent nuclear test in September of what Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb, was so large it triggered a collapse inside the mountain, rendering the entire site unusable for future tests.
It is also one of eight countries with nuclear test capacity, including the United States, China and Iran, which have so far failed to either sign or ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, blocking it from taking effect.
"No president has ever put America in a position where the North Korean leadership thought that this was truly possible, that the Americans would actually do this, would lead to the place where America was no longer held at risk by the North Korean regime", he said.
North Korea has announced that it will allow U.S. and other foreign media to observe the process, which is scheduled to take place sometime between May 23rd and the 25th.
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Trump a year ago threatened North Korea with "fire and fury".
Skeptics, however, say Pyongyang may have ulterior motives for highlighting the site's demolition, pointing to past demonstrations where it carried out similar spectacles to show its commitment to deals it later reneged on.
He has also been lobbying both Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in to raise the issue of abducted Japanese citizens during negotiations.
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