TOKYO, North Korea destroyed its only known nuclear test site with a series of explosions over several hours on Thursday, taking an initial step toward denuclearization, Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency reported.
The North dynamited the North Portal, also referred to as Tunnel No. 2, at Punggye-ri, a northeastern remote area, at around 11 a.m. (0200 GMT), South Korean journalists visiting the area said in a pool report delivered by phone.
Two other tunnels were destroyed at 2:17 p.m., (0517 GMY) followed by the explosion of barracks, observation towers and other facilities on the ground. The blasts ended at 4:17 p.m., the journalists said without clarifying whether Tunnel No. 1, or the East Portal, was removed as well. Reporters and television crews from the US, China, Russia and Britain were also invited to witness the ceremony.
They filmed the spectacle, but footage is expected to be available only after they return to Wonsan, the North’s eastern coastal city, presumably on Friday morning. The South Korean government welcomed the move, expressing hope for further progress in efforts for a nuclear-free Korea.
“(We) expect it to serve as a chance for complete denuclearization going forward,” a Foreign Ministry Spokesman told reporters. As the North’s media remains silent about the event, it was not immediately confirmed whether the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, visited the site to observe the closure of the symbol of the communist nation’s nuclear program.
Source: Kuwait News Agency