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S. Korean military says N. Korea preparing nuke site closure

S. Korean military says N. Korea preparing nuke site closure

An analysis Monday by the 38 North website says commercial imagery taken last week shows that several operational support buildings have been razed and rails for mining carts have apparently been removed.

And this week the North announced it will shut its Punggye-ri nuclear test site in less than two weeks with foreign journalists in attendance, in a sign of easing tensions between the West and the reclusive nation. The reporters will then be transported by a chartered train to the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri.

The U.S.is said to consider North Korea's declaration of halting further nuclear and missile tests as "not enough" for a "complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement", Yonhap said.

US officials, caught by surprise, said they have received no formal notification from the North or South Korean governments, and no formal protest of the military exercises from Kim's government.

Pyongyang for decades has been pushing a concept of "denuclearization" that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its 28,500 troops from South Korea and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

"In the end, North Korea will remain 'a nuclear power packaged as a non-nuclear state, '" Thae told the South's Newsis news agency.

In their joint statement released after the summit, Moon and Kim declared that there would be "no more war" on the Korean Peninsula and committed to a goal of "complete denuclearization".

The North also said for the first time at the meeting that it had been conducting "subcritical" nuclear tests. The announcement would surely minimise any serious conflict especially in view of threatening posture of the United States that has vowed to deal with the threat firmly.

U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Kim on June 12 in Singapore.

White House national security adviser John Bolton and US Senator Lindsey Graham also commented on potential economic rewards North Korea stands to gain from denuclearization.

North Korea has carried out all of its six nuclear tests to date at the Punggye-ri site, starting in 2006 and continuing until the most recent and powerful one in September a year ago. The U.S. intelligence community has, with consensus, determined as of mid-2017 that North Korea is capable of mounting compact nuclear weapons atop its larger ballistic missiles, including its intercontinental-range ballistic missiles that threaten the continental United States.

North Korea blew up a cooling tower at the nuclear facility in 2007 following a deal with the United States, but soon restarted the reactor.

North Korea has not made any concessions on its sub-critical testing program, which will likely continue at its Nuclear Weapons Institute.

When asked if human rights would be on the agenda at the summit, for example, Pompeo said: "America's interest here is preventing the risk that North Korea will launch a nuclear weapon into LA or Denver".

In his memoir, Thae said Kim Jong-un is "very short-tempered and also violent and acts impulsively".

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