North Korea begins dismantling primary nuclear test site ahead of Trump summit

North Korea begins dismantling primary nuclear test site ahead of Trump summit

Today, North Korea will begin destroying the Punggye-ri nuclear test site located in the country’s northeast mountains. This dismantling comes

171128-axe-nkorea-tease1_rgf8qq

Photo: Reuters

Today, North Korea will begin destroying the Punggye-ri nuclear test site located in the country’s northeast mountains.

This dismantling comes ahead of the June 12 summit—now likely to be delayed according to US President Donald Trump—between Trump and Kim Jong-un, whose negotiating standpoints may dramatically slow the historic progress made in North Korean peace relations. As it stands, Trump will not compromise for anything less than Pyongyang’s full turnover of nuclear capabilities; Kim has cited Libya as a reason to be wary of such a deal with the West and seeks to maintain his right to peaceful or energy-related use of nuclear power.

While the nuclear facility’s destruction aligns with the inter-Korean effort to denuclearise the peninsula, it is unlikely Kim will agree to fully strip the country of nuclear weaponry, having threatened to call off the summit if the US doesn’t moderate its demand. Further, sceptics are wary of how meaningful the site’s destruction will be, as North Korea has fallen back on agreements before, and the expertise that remains could revive a nuclear development programme.