Trump Thanks North Korea for ‘Smart’ Move to Dismantle Test SiteBy
Pyongyang plans to close facility between May 23 and May 25
Latest action comes after release of three U.S. citizens
North Korea has set the date to begin shutting down a major nuclear test site as it continues to pursue improved relations with the world, earning thanks on Twitter from U.S. President Donald Trump for “a very smart and gracious gesture!”
A ceremony will be held between May 23 and May 25 for the dismantling of North Korea’s northern nuclear test ground, weather permitting, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday, quoting the Foreign Ministry.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has taken a series of steps this year to ease tensions with the U.S. and is set to meet Trump for historic talks in Singapore on June 12.
In another sign of improving relations, North Korea this week released three U.S. citizens who’d been imprisoned in the country.
Trump also lavished praise on Kim after that move, saying he “really was excellent” to the three men, and cast forward to his upcoming meeting.
“The fact that we were able to get them out so soon was really a tribute to a lot of things, including a certain process that’s taking place right now,” the president told reporters at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington in the early hours of Thursday morning. “And that process is very important.”
The isolated Asian nation, which had already pledged to begin dismantling the nuclear test site this month, will invite journalists from China, Russia, the U.S., the U.K. and South Korea to cover the event, KCNA said in the statement.
Kim in April said the site, Punggye-ri, which is built in a secluded mountain valley northeast of Pyongyang and has been the site for all six of the regime’s nuclear tests, would be shuttered and that further activity has been suspended, KCNA reported April 21. The site has already been in doubt amid signs of structural weakness, and some observers have said it would be unsafe to do more tests there.
The dismantling will include collapsing its test tunnels with explosives and blocking their entrances, removing observation facilities and withdrawing guards and researchers from the site. The test ground will be completely closed after the process, KCNA said.