South Korean leader praises North's plan to dismantle nuke site

Larry Hoffman
May 15, 2018

Satellite imagery shows North Korea has started dismantling its only known underground nuclear test site in line with an announcement the country made last month, a US institute monitoring the North said Monday.

"This would be a preliminary step toward complete denuclearization", Moon said Monday, according to a transcript provided by his office.

"Commercial satellite imagery from may 7 shows that the dismantling of the test site has already begun".

"Those are the kind of things that, if we get what it is the President has demanded - the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea - that the American people will offer in spades".

Bolton said the United States side also will discuss not just North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes but its chemical and biological weapons arsenal as well.

In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Pompeo added North Korea would get much-needed energy assistance from private capital, speculating that - one day - the North may even rival the economic prosperity of the South. "I'm not trying to unify South and North Korea". Still, it's unclear whether North Korea has figured out how to prevent a warhead from burning up during re-entry from space.

A decade ago, the last time North Korea took talks with the far, then-leader Kim Jong Il blew up a cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear plant as part of a deal to limit its weapons program.

Some experts believe Kim may try to drag out the process or seek a deal in which he gives away his intercontinental ballistic missiles but retains some of his shorter-range arsenal in return for a reduced USA military presence in the South.

The meeting between Moon and Kim resulted in few specifics and was largely seen as a prelude to the first-ever U.S. Kim has denied such views, saying the site has two additional underground tunnels that could be used for new tests.

To accommodate the travelling journalists, North Korea said various measures would be taken including "opening territorial air space".NO MENTION OF EXPERTSSouth Korean officials said in April that North Korea also planned to invite experts from the United States and South Korea for the Punggye-ri shutdown, but KCNA made no mention of this. "It will make it more hard for Kim Jong Un to deny inspections now that he has placed them on the table".

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at California's Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said in a blog post this week that recent satellite images had shown the removal of some buildings from the site.

Pompeo was asked on Fox News Sunday whether the USA was in effect telling Kim he could stay in power if he met the US demands. Such an assurance is unlikely to be given by the nuclear-countries.

One particular worry is that if North Korea does not destroy its knowledge on nuclear weaponry, it could carry out research in secret and resume a nuclear weapons programme at short notice enabling the country to sell the data to other nations or terrorist groups.

The North went on to conduct its second nuclear test in May 2009.

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