Pledge to dismantle test site moves North Korea a step closer to international community: experts


North Korea's announcement that it will dismantle its nuclear test site at the end of the month and invite foreign journalists to cover the event brings Pyongyang a step closer - both diplomatically and economically - to the international community, analysts said on Sunday.

North Korea's nuclear weapon institute and other relevant institutions "are taking technical measures for dismantling the northern nuclear test ground," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Saturday.

All tunnels will be blown up and entrances blocked. Guards and researchers will be withdrawn and the surrounding area will be completely closed off, KCNA reported, citing North Korea's foreign ministry.

The dismantlement will reduce skepticism in the international community, especially the US and South Korea, about Pyongyang's determination to denuclearize, Yang Xiyu, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times.

US President Donald Trump hailed the move as "a very smart and gracious gesture" in a tweet on Saturday, while South Korea's presidential Blue House on Sunday said it was a statement of intent that showed the North's willingness for action over words, keeping a promise made at the inter-Korean summit in April.

The announcement garners Pyongyang first-mover advantage at the leaders' summit in Singapore on June 12, Lü Chao, a research fellow at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

The move also cornered the US and South Korea, whose leaders are scheduled to meet at the White House on May 22, into a situation where pressurizing North Korea would be regarded as an unwelcome gesture, said experts.

Dialogue, contacts

According to KCNA, North Korea also vowed to promote close contacts and dialogue with neighboring countries and international society to safeguard peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the world.

A ceremony for the dismantlement is scheduled between May 23 and 25, depending on the weather, KCNA reported.

Journalists from China, Russia, the US, the UK and South Korea will be allowed to attend. A charter flight will be provided from Beijing to Wonsan and a charter train from Wonsan to the site.

The party chief of North Korea's North Pyongan Province told a delegation headed by Chinese Ambassador Li Jinjun that the province expects further joint exchanges and cooperation with China's Liaoning Province, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.

The delegation visited Sinuiju, capital of North Pyongan Province, on Friday and Saturday. Sinuiju lies directly across the Yalu River from the Liaoning city of Dandong.

Sinuiju, a comparatively developed city for North Korea, has received rich industrial and agricultural support from Dandong. The two cities have enjoyed frequent and friendly exchanges, according to Liaoning-based expert Lü.

After his second trip to Pyongyang in two months, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered economic aid to North Korea if it gives up its nuclear weapons, the Guardian reported on Friday.

Political uncertainties in the US made that promise unreliable, Wu Xinbo, director of Fudan University's Center for American Studies, told the Global Times.

Even if the Trump administration sincerely plans to offer economic support to North Korea, it must pass the US Congress and survive the next administration, Wu noted.

Newspaper headline: Nuke pledge brings N.Korea closer to world






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