North Korea destroys nuclear test tunnels in Punggye-ri

(Reuters) North Korea followed through on a pledge to blow up tunnels used for nuclear testing on Thursday, media reported, as part of steps that have reduced tension on the Korean peninsula and raised the possibility of a summit with the United States.

North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri site, which consists of tunnels dug beneath Mount Mantap in the northeast of the country.

A small group of international media selected by North Korea was on hand to witness the demolition, which Pyongyang says is proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing.

The destruction of the site began at about 11 a.m. with the blowing up and collapsing of a tunnel and an observation post.

After some time, it destroyed another tunnel and other facilities, then a third tunnel and another observation post.

About five hours after beginning the operation, it destroyed two military barracks, South Korean media said in pool reports.

The North Korean offer to scrap the test site has been seen as a major concession in months of easing tension between it, on the one hand, and South Korea and the United States on the other.

But the progress appears to have been checked this month with North Korea raising doubts about an unprecedented June 12 summit in Singapore between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump.

The North objects to U.S. demands that it unilaterally give up its arsenal of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles.

Last week, Trump sought to placate North Korea after it threatened to call off the summit, saying Kim’s security would be guaranteed in any deal and his country would not suffer the fate of Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, unless that could not be reached.

But the reference to the case of Libya has angered North Korea.
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