Inkstone
    May
    23
    2018
    May
    23
    2018
    North Korea is about to blow up its nuclear site
    North Korea is about to blow up its nuclear site
    POLITICS

    North Korea is about to blow up its nuclear site

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    Photo: KCNA
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    A dozen international journalists have flown into North Korea to watch what the country says will be the shutdown of its only known nuclear test site.

    US President Donald Trump had cheered North Korea’s offer last month to dismantle the Punggye-ri site as a “very good news” ahead of a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

    Should we get ready to fire the confetti cannons? Not so fast.

    Rain check

    Pyongyang has never said it will abandon the nuclear weapons it had already built – Kim said the country would close the site because it “has done its job” – and now the summit may not happen as scheduled, if at all.

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    Trump said Tuesday a planned meeting with Kim in Singapore on June 12 could be delayed.
    Trump said Tuesday a planned meeting with Kim in Singapore on June 12 could be delayed. Photo: AP

    After North Korea said it’d never agree to surrender its weapons and threatened to cancel the summit, scheduled next month in Singapore (Why Singapore? This is why), Trump said that there’s “a very substantial chance it won’t work out.”

    "There are certain conditions that we want, and I think we'll get those conditions, and if we don't we don't have the meeting,” he said Tuesday before meeting with his South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-in.

    Trump said he’d “rather not say” what the conditions are, but he said that denuclearization “must take place.”

    Although Kim had agreed to “denuclearization” on the Korean peninsula after his historic meeting (and hand-holding) with Moon, North Korea and the US have yet to agree on how it’s to be carried out.

    North Korea invited journalists from South Korea, the US, China, UK and Russia to witness the closure of its only known nuclear site.
    North Korea invited journalists from South Korea, the US, China, UK and Russia to witness the closure of its only known nuclear site. Photo: EPA-EFE

    Spectacle

    Still, North Korea’s closing of its Punggye-ri site, where it conducted all six of its nuclear tests, is a symbolic move – if not a spectacle.

    North Korea invited earlier this month journalists from China, Russia, the United States, Britain and South Korea to watch a ceremony at the site that would start Wednesday, weather permitting.

    North Korea demolished in 2008 a cooling tower at its main nuclear power plant. International journalists and diplomats were invited to witness the event.
    North Korea demolished in 2008 a cooling tower at its main nuclear power plant. International journalists and diplomats were invited to witness the event. Photo: AP

    Analysts, using satellite imagery, have identified spots outside the site that’d allow journalists to observe the closure from a safe distance.

    Pyongyang said it would collapse the test tunnels using explosions, and then seal off entry.

    On Wednesday evening, journalists from US, Russia, South Korea and China began their trip from the North Korean city Wonsan to the remote test site some 200 miles away.

    Skeptics point out a similar spectacle nearly 10 years ago, when despite North Korea’s move to blow up a nuclear cooling tower, denuclearization talks didn’t go far.

    That being said, the prospect of stability is real enough for some Chinese speculators, who have poured money into property in a Chinese city bordering North Korea.

    Alan Wong
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    Alan is editor at Inkstone. He was previously a digital editor for The New York Times in Hong Kong.
    Alan Wong
    arrow rightarrow right
    Alan is editor at Inkstone. He was previously a digital editor for The New York Times in Hong Kong.
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