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North Korea Says It Just Blew Up Nuke Test Site

But just foreign journalists were on hand to witness the explosions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 24, 2018 5:55 AM CDT
Updated May 24, 2018 6:33 AM CDT
This Wednesday, May 23, 2018 satellite file image provided by DigitalGlobe, shows the Punggye-ri test site in North Korea. North Korea has carried out what it says is the demolition of its nuclear test...   (DigitalGlobe via AP, File)
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(Newser) – North Korea carried out what it said is the demolition of its nuclear test site Thursday, setting off a series of explosions over several hours in the presence of foreign journalists. The explosions at the nuclear test site deep in the mountains of the North's sparsely populated northeast were centered on three tunnels into the underground site and a number of observation towers in the surrounding area, reports the AP. The planned closing was previously announced by Kim Jong Un ahead of his planned summit with President Trump next month. Sky News correspondent Tom Cheshire was on hand, and described it thusly: "We hiked up into the mountains and watched the detonation from about 500 meters away. ... There was a huge explosion, you could feel it. Dust came at you, the heat came at you. It was extremely loud."

The North's decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Kim to set a positive tone ahead of the summit. Even so, it is not an irreversible move and would need to be followed by many more significant measures to meet Trump's demands for real denuclearization. By bringing in the foreign media, mainly television networks, the North is apparently hoping to have images of the closing—including explosions to collapse tunnel entrances—broadcast around the world. The group included an AP television crew. The North did not invite international inspectors to the ceremony, which limits its value as a serious concession. (Pyongyang is apparently all over the place on Thursday.)

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