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United Nations chief welcomes North Korea's closure of nuke test site

16 May 2018

"Commercial satellite imagery from May 7 provided the first definitive evidence that dismantlement of the test site was already well underway", Efe news agency reported citing the 38 North website report that published and analysed satellite images of the site.

"It will make honest efforts.to establish a durable lasting peace mechanism" with its neighbour to the south, he said, urging the global community to "extend its active support in encouraging and promoting the current positive climate".

Prior to Kim's meeting with Moon, the North Korean leader announced on April 21 that all nuclear and missile tests were to be suspended, saying the Punggye-ri site had "finished its mission" after completing its nuclear programme.

The meeting between Kim and Moon Jae-in paved the way for talks between the North Korean leader and US President Trump.

"Just about a week before the inter-Korean summit, Kim told party officials that nuclear weapons are the "strongest sword" and "the powerful deterrent" that guarantees the North's sovereignty", Thae said.

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But there are lingering doubts about whether Kim will ever agree to fully relinquish his nukes.

Thae emphasized that Kim would demand an assurance of safety against any attacks on North Korea by other countries in return of denuclearisation. Pompeo said that the USA was willing to help the impoverished North boost its economy to levels like those in prosperous South Korea.

The announcement was welcomed by Washington and Seoul.

A decade ago, the last time North Korea took talks with the U.S.so far, then-leader Kim Jong Il blew up a cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear plant as part of a deal to limit its weapons program.

"I think they're done testing". These refer to experiments involving a subcritical mass of nuclear materials that allow scientists to examine the performance and safety of weapons without triggering a nuclear chain reaction and explosion.

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The AP also reports that at a ruling party meeting last month, North Korea announced the plan to close the nuclear testing ground, along with a commitment to suspend all tests of nuclear devices and ICBMs.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department says the U.S. has not heard anything directly from Pyongyang or Seoul that would change that. "It will make it more hard for Kim Jong Un to deny inspections now that he has placed them on the table".

American nuclear weapons expert Siegfried Hecker, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, led a group of USA scientists to North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear complex in November 2010. He has turned on the charisma in meetings with both USA and South Korean officials.

"North Korea has a very extensive program".

"We hope North Korea will seize the moment and take the bold steps necessary to lead North Korea to a peaceful and prosperous future".

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A campaign of diplomacy has allowed tensions to ease on the Korean Peninsula, but they were high throughout much of 2017, fueled by North Korea's missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as USA military exercises and Trump's threatening statements.

United Nations chief welcomes North Korea's closure of nuke test site