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North Korea has begun dismantlement of Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site - expert group

May 15, 5:52 UTC+3 TOKYO

The North Korean foreign ministry announced earlier that the public closing ceremony of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site would take place between May 23 and 25

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©  Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

TOKYO, May 15. /TASS/. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has begun dismantlement of buildings of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site prior to its closure, according to the report of a group of experts from the Johns Hopkins University released on 38 North website.

"Commercial satellite imagery from May 7 provided the first definitive evidence that dismantlement of the test site was already well underway. Several key operational support buildings, located just outside the North, West and South Portals, have been razed. Some of the rails for the mining carts, which had led from the tunnels to their respective spoil piles, have apparently been removed," the report said.

Meanwhile, "other more substantial buildings around the facility remain intact," and "no tunnel entrances appear to have yet been permanently closed." This may be because the final dismantlement of the Punggye-ri nuclear test ground will be witnessed by foreign journalists and will involve the "collapsing all of its tunnels with explosions, blocking its entrances, and removing all observation facilities, research buildings and security posts," 38 North said.

The North Korean foreign ministry announced earlier that the public closing ceremony of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site would take place between May 23 and 25. The exact date will depend on weather conditions. Currently, Pyongyang is conducting required technical preparations. Journalists from five countries - South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom - have been invited to attend the ceremony.

The North Korean authorities had promised to dismantle the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in May, with the process being made public. The agreement to this effect was reached at a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Panmunjom on April 27.

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