Invited foreign journalists began a long journey up North Korea's east coast yesterday to witness the slated destruction of the reclusive regime's nuclear test site, a high profile gesture on the road to a summit with the U.S. that Donald Trump now says might not happen.
In a surprise announcement Pyongyang said earlier this month that it planned to "completely" destroy the Punggye-ri facility in the country's northeast, a move welcomed by Washington and Seoul.
Punggye-ri has been the staging ground for all six of the North's nuclear tests, including its latest and by far most powerful one in September last year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb.
The North has portrayed the destruction on the test site as a goodwill gesture ahead of planned June 12 summit between Kim and Trump in Singapore. But doubts have since been cast by both sides on whether that potentially historic meeting will take place.
Last week Pyongyang threatened to pull out if Washington pressed for its unilateral nuclear disarmament. Trump also said the meeting could be delayed as he met with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in in Washington on Tuesday.
"There are certain conditions we want to happen. I think we'll get those conditions. And if we don't, we won't have the meeting," he told reporters, without elaborating on what those conditions might be.
Politically, Trump has invested heavily in the success of his meeting with Kim, and so privately most U.S. officials, as well as outside observers, believe it will go ahead. But as the date draws near, Trump's divergence from his top aides, the differences between the two sides and these high stakes are coming into sharp relief.
Washington has made it clear it wants to see the "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" of the North.
Pyongyang has vowed it will never give up its nuclear deterrence until it feels safe from what it terms U.S. aggression. "Everything is on thin ice," Koo Kab-woo, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"Trump wants a swift denuclearization, something that will be done within his first term in office. In that case, he has to provide North Korea with a corresponding, swift security guarantee."
Observers will be watching the nuclear test site destruction ceremony closely for any clues to the North's mood. Experts are divided over whether the demolition will render the site useless. Skeptics say the site has already outlived its usefulness with six successful nuclear tests in the bag and can be quickly rebuilt if needed. Previous similar gestures by the North were rapidly reversed when the international mood soured. But others say the fact that North Korea agreed to destroy the site without preconditions or asking for something in return from Washington is significant.
Please click to read our informative text prepared pursuant to the Law on the Protection of Personal Data No. 6698 and to get information about the cookies used on our website in accordance with the relevant legislation.
6698 sayılı Kişisel Verilerin Korunması Kanunu uyarınca hazırlanmış aydınlatma metnimizi okumak ve sitemizde ilgili mevzuata uygun olarak kullanılan çerezlerle ilgili bilgi almak için lütfen tıklayınız.