North to publicly dismantle nuclear test site between May 23-25

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North to publicly dismantle nuclear test site between May 23-25

North Korea announced Saturday it will publicly dismantle its northern nuclear test site in a ceremony scheduled for between May 23 and 25, adding it is taking "technical measures" to that end.

The announcement by the North's Foreign Ministry moves the communist country closer to honoring an offer made by its leader Kim Jong-un during the inter-Korean summit last month.

In an English-language statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the Foreign Ministry detailed the country's plans to shut down its Pyunggye-ri nuclear test ground.

It said the ruling Workers' Party and other relevant institutions are "taking technical measures for dismantling the northern nuclear test ground" in order to "ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test."

During the third inter-Korean summit on April 27, Kim told South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he would "carry out the closure of the northern nuclear test site in May," according to the Blue House.

Kim also offered to make the dismantling public. And the North's Foreign Ministry said the ceremony for the occasion has been scheduled for between May 23 and 25, depending on weather conditions.

Given the limited space, only journalists from South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Britain will be invited to cover the dismantling on-site, the ministry added.

It also said North Korea will provide all international journalists with charter flights from Beijing to North Korea's Wonsan, and from there, they will be offered a special charter train to Pyunggye-ri.

The North will set up a press center and arrange special accommodation for the journalists.

"(North Korea) will, also in the future, promote close contacts and dialogue with the neighboring countries and the international society so as to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and over the globe," the ministry also said.

The ministry added the dismantlement will be done according to this sequence: collapsing all tunnels with an explosion, blocking entrances, and removing all observation and research facilities, as well as the guard unit structures on the testing ground.

"In parallel with dismantlement of the nuclear test ground, guards and researchers will be withdrawn and the surrounding area of the test ground will be completely closed," the ministry said.

North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests in Punggye-ri in the northeast since 2006. The sixth and most recent one was carried out on Sept. 3, 2017. On April 21, 2018, Pyongyang announced after a key ruling party meeting that it would dismantle the site because it has already completed its nuclear development.

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