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Pyongyang offers to close N-test site next month: Seoul

Seoul, April 29: The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday said that North Korea has offered to close down its nuclear test site in Punggye-ri in May. During a live broadcast delivered by President Moon Jae-in’s chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan, he said Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also agreed to make public when North Korea dismantles the northern test site, reports Yonhap News Agency.
Kim said he would invite security experts and journalists to the North. “Some say that we are terminating facilities that are not functioning, but you will see that we have two more tunnels that are bigger than the existing ones and that they are in good condition,” Yoon quoted Kim as saying in a statement. “Why would we keep nuclear weapons and live in a difficult condition if we often meet with Americans to build trust and they promise us to end the war and not to invade us?”
Kim said he will not repeat the “painful history of the Korean War”, adding, “Concrete measures are necessary to stop any accidental military confrontation from happening.” He also agreed to unify the time zones used in South and North Korea, where Seoul is 30 minutes ahead of Pyongyang.
On April 21, the North said it would dismantle the Punggye-ri site, reports Yonhap News Agency. It conducted all six nuclear detonations at the Punggye-ri facility in North Hamgyong Province. The first test was carried out October 9, 2006, followed by a second one on May 25, 2009. Additional tests were conducted on February 12, 2013, January 6 and September 9 in 2016. The sixth and most recent one was carried out September 3, 2017. Sunday’s announcement comes after Kim and Moon presided over a historic summit on Friday at the border village of Panmunjom where they agreed to work to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita