06:57 GMT +313 December 2019
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    North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility is shown in this DigitalGlobe satellite image in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea, May 23, 2018

    Dismantaling of N Korea's Punggye-Ri Nuclear Test Site Completed

    © REUTERS / Satellite image ©2018 DigitalGlobe, a Maxar company
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    The dismantling of North Korea's Punggye-Ri nuclear test site shows Pyongyang's peaceful intentions, the Nuclear Weapons Institute Deputy Chair Kang Kyung Ho told Sputnik.

    The servicemen of North Korea's Defense Ministry blew up on Thursday three tests mines at the Punggye-Ri nuclear test site, also destroying security checkpoints and other facilities, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

    “The Nuclear Weapons Institute of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has held the ceremony of dismantling the nuclear test site in North Korea on May 24, 2018, to prove the transparency in the issue of suspension of nuclear tests,”  the institute's statement, which was read out at the closure ceremony, said.

    The statement added that no radiation leakage had been detected following the explosions.

    READ MORE: N Korean FM: Trump-Kim Summit Depends on 'US Behavior'

    Kang Kyung Ho, in his turn, continued by saying that North Korea had no other sites or mines for underground nuclear tests left following the dismantling of the Punggye-Ri complex, pointing out that the resumption of nuclear tests at the site would be impossible.

    Kang added that the evacuation of staff from the center, as well as closure of the surrounding area, would be completed soon.

    The officials noted that the North had never cooperated in the nuclear development field with neither Iran nor Syria. At the same time, according to the official, North Korea will put efforts to build a nuclear-free world.

    "And we will continue joining efforts with a peaceful population of the world in the establishment of a nuclear-free, calm world, a new, independent world," the statement reads.

    According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, North Korea’s closure of its Punggye-Ri nuclear testing facility represents a confidence-building step that can be leveraged toward further efforts to eliminate the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

    "The Secretary-General hopes that this confidence-building measure will contribute to ongoing efforts towards sustainable peace and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," said the statement issued by spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

    Although some journalists were invited to witness the event, Guterres said it was regrettable that international experts were also not invited.

    Earlier in the week, a number of foreign journalists from the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China arrived in North Korean Wonsan to cover the dismantling of the Punggye-Ri site.

    READ MORE: Bank of Korea to Take ‘Wait And See' Stance Ahead of Trump-Kim Talks

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced the shutdown of the Punggye-ri site during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in late April. However, Korean relations, which had improved dramatically since the beginning of the year, entered a new period of uncertainty as the United States and South Korea resumed military drills near North Korea's shores. Pyongyang has objected to the military exercises, which it sees as a threat.


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    nuclear test, nuclear weapons, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK)
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