DPRK ‘dismantles’ Punggye-ri nuclear test site

World Today

FILE – This Wednesday, May 23, 2018 satellite file image provided by DigitalGlobe, shows the Punggye-ri test site in North Korea. North Korea has carried out what it says is the demolition of its nuclear test site in the presence of foreign journalists. The demolition happened Thursday at the site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated northeast. The planned closing was previously announced by leader Kim Jong Un ahead of his planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next month. (DigitalGlobe via AP, File)

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) says it has dismantled its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

The site was “destroyed” at 16:20 local time (07:20 GMT), according to CGTN reporter Han Peng.

“There are four channels inside the nuke site,” he said. “Three of them were dismantled by explosion, the fourth one was discarded a long time back, according to DPRK officials.”

The dismantlement was witnessed by foreign journalists who had been invited by the DPRK government. They flew to the DPRK from Beijing Capital International Airport on Tuesday morning.

But the process was not immediately verifiable without the presence of a nuclear expert at the test site.

The explosions were centered on three underground tunnels and a number of observation towers in the surrounding area.

The DPRK said it will next remove all observation facilities and research institutes, withdraw guards and completely close the surrounding testing area.

The Third Plenary Meeting of the Seventh Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea made the decision last month that the country will discontinue its nuclear tests and intercontinental ballistic rocket test-firing from April 21, according to an earlier report from the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Voice from DPRK

The DPRK has completely dismantled its Punggye-ri nuclear test ground “to ensure the transparency of discontinuance of nuclear tests,” KCNA said on Thursday in its official announcement.

The process “completely closed the tunnel entrances,” it said, adding that two tunnels there had been ready for use in “powerful underground nuclear tests.”

There was no leakage of radioactive material or adverse impact on the surrounding environment from the dismantling, the agency said.

“The discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process moving towards global nuclear disarmament,” KCNA said.

Punggye-ri nuclear test site

Located in the country’s North Hamgyong Province which borders China, the Punggye-ri test site is where Pyongyang conducted all six nuclear tests.

The site is thought to be DPRK’s main nuclear facility and the only active nuclear testing site in the world.