North Korea destroys nuclear test site in series of huge explosions as world’s media watches
North Korea has dismantled its nuclear test site, in a planned move portrayed by the isolated country as a goodwill gesture ahead of a meeting with US President Donald Trump.
The explosions at the nuclear test site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated northeast were reportedly centered on three tunnels into the underground site and a number of observation towers in the surrounding area.
It is not known to what extent the northeastern Punggye-ri facility has been demolished, but foreign journalists invited to witness the destruction described a series of ‘huge explosions’.
Yonhap news agency, citing South Korean reporters at the scene, said multiple explosions were heard throughout the day, beginning at 11am (3am GMT) until 4.17pm.
Punggye-ri has been the staging ground for all six of the North’s nuclear tests, including its latest and by far most powerful one in September last year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb.
Experts are divided over whether the demolition will render the site useless. Sceptics say the facility has already outlived its usefulness with six successful nuclear tests in the bag and can be quickly rebuilt if needed.
North Korea also did not invite any independent observers from overseas.
But others say the fact that North Korea agreed to destroy the site without preconditions or asking for something in return from Washington suggests the regime is serious about change.