President Trump welcomed North Korea's vow on Saturday to dismantle its nuclear test site in less than two weeks as a "gracious gesture" that would set up the US-North Korea summit. North Korea's Foreign Ministry said all tunnels at the country's testing ground will be destroyed by explosion, reports the AP, and observation and research facilities and ground-based guard units will also be removed. Kim had already revealed plans to shut the test site by the end of May during his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month. Analysts say that while closure of the site is important, it doesn't represent a material step toward full denuclearization. "A ceremony for dismantling the nuclear test ground is now scheduled between May 23 and 25," depending on weather, the statement said, adding that journalists from the US, South Korea, China, Russia, and Britain will be invited.
The ministry said the North will continue to "promote close contacts and dialogue with the neighboring countries and the international society so as to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and over the globe." Trump, in a tweet Saturday, thanked North Korea for its plan to dismantle the nuclear test site, calling it "a very smart and gracious gesture!" Following the Moon-Kim meeting, Moon's office said Kim was willing to disclose the process to international experts, but the North's statement Saturday didn't address allowing experts on the site. South Korea has said Kim has genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons in return for economic benefits. However, there are lingering doubts about whether Kim would ever agree to fully relinquish the weapons he probably views as his only guarantee of survival. (Some experts think Kim is giving up a site that's already destroyed.)