06:51 GMT28 February 2021
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    Earlier this month, North Korea said it would allow journalists from South Korea to attend the shutdown of its nuclear test site. However, North Korea has not accepted the list of journalists wishing to cover the dismantlement that the Ministry of Unification of South Korea recently sent to Pyongyang.

    According to the ministry, the list was submitted and rejected Friday. The list was resubmitted on Monday, but was swiftly rejected by North Korea once again. 

    On May 12, North Korean official media claimed Pyongyang would dismantle facilities at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site sometime between May 23 and May 25. US President Donald Trump approved of the action on Twitter, noting that the dismantling of the facility, North Korea's only known test site, was "a very smart and gracious gesture."

    South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Monday that following the May 12 announcement, North Korea invited four South Korean reporters from different newswires as well as a broadcasting company to attend the dismantling event, though it appears these four have not yet been finally approved either. Some South Korean reporters have nonetheless left for Beijing to collect North Korean visas in hopes of being allowed to cover the event in the end, Yonhap reports.

    The dismantling of the testing area involves collapsing all of its tunnels with explosives, blocking its entrances and transferring or destroying all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts elsewhere.

    North Korea's rejection of the list of South Korean journalists follows Pyongyang's testy announcement that the Max Thunder air drills launched by Seoul and Washington last week were a "provocation" and violated the Panmunjom Declaration made by North and South Korea on April 27, 2018. The agreement lays out plans to improve inter-Korean relations. 

    This satellite image released and notated by Airbus Defense & Space and 38 North on April 12, 2017, shows the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea
    © AP Photo / Airbus Defense & Space/38 North/Pleiades CNES/Spot Image

    Following the launch of the air drills, North Korea suspended talks with South Korea and threatened to cancel negotiations with the US.

    "The United States will also have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-US summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities," North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said in a statement first reported by South Korea's Yonhap News Agency in last week.

    In response to North Korea's comments, the White House released a statement Tuesday afternoon stating, "We are aware of the South Korean media report. The United States will look at what North Korea has said independently, and continue to coordinate closely with our allies."

    After the statement, the US diverted two B-52 bombers from flying over the peninsula, while South Korea and Japan agreed to refrain from any possible escalation.


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