North Korea reports destruction of Punggye-ri nuclear test site

By Yonhap News Service  |  Updated May 24, 2018 at 9:18 AM
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SEOUL, May 24 (UPI) -- North Korea said Thursday that it "completely" dismantled its only known nuclear test site, calling the move an important process toward global nuclear disarmament.

In a statement carried by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency, the North's nuclear research institute said the dismantlement led to the collapse of all the tunnels at the Punggye-ri site and the closure of their entrances.

"The Nuclear Weapons Institute of the DPRK held a ceremony for completely dismantling the northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK on May 24," the institute said, using the abbreviation of the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Dismantling the nuclear test ground was done in such a way as to make all the tunnels of the test ground collapse by explosion and completely close the tunnel entrances, and at the same time, explode some guard facilities and observation posts on the site," it added.

The confirmation came a few hours after pool reports by journalists invited to the site to observe the event stated that the North blew up all the tunnels at the Punggye-ri test site located in its northeastern mountainous region.

All six of the North's nuclear tests were carried out there, including the latest and most powerful detonation in September.

The institute emphasized that local and foreign journalists could see two tunnels were ready for use for conducting nuclear tests at any time, apparently dismissing speculation that the demolition might be meaningless since the site had been rendered useless due to all the previous detonation tests.

It also noted that the demolition was done "with high-level transparency" and that it demonstrates its efforts to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

"The dismantling of the nuclear test ground conducted with high-level transparency has clearly attested once again to the proactive and peace-loving efforts of the DPRK government being made for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and over the world," it said.

"The discontinuance of the nuclear test is an important process moving towards global nuclear disarmament, and we will continue to join hands with the world peace-loving people in building a nuclear-free peaceful world, a new independent world where the dream and ideal of humanity are realized," it added.

The institute said that the demolition has not led to any radioactive leaks or had an adverse impact on the surrounding ecological environment.

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