North Korea open to inspections of dismantled nuclear testing ground

North Korea open to inspections of dismantled nuclear testing ground

By Luke Vargas   
Published
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. October 7, 2018. Courtesy: KCNA
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. October 7, 2018. Courtesy: KCNA

North Korea detonated explosives at the Punggye-ri test site in May, but international inspectors have yet to verify the site is out of operation.

UNITED NATIONS  North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly offered to let international inspectors visit his country’s former nuclear test site, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said after a brief visit with Kim on Sunday.

North Korea detonated explosives outside its underground Punggye-ri complex in May before members of the foreign press, but no nuclear scientists or engineers were present to inspect whether the massive nuclear testing ground had been rendered unusable.

“As soon as we get it logistically worked out, Chairman Kim said he’s ready to  ready to allow them to come in, and there’s a lot of logistics that will be required to execute that,” Pompeo told reporters, “but when we get them we’ll put them on the ground.”

Pompeo said his visit  his fourth to North Korea this year  achieved “significant progress” on a range of issues, but for now, the public will have to take him at his word. Pompeo offered no details on when inspectors might be allowed into North Korea.

He also sidestepped a question about whether North Korea was committed to dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, a promise made by Kim at a separate summit with South Korea’s president last month.

Another key goal of Pompeo’s trip was to continue preparations for a second meeting between Kim and Trump, akin to their one-day Singapore summit in June.

Pompeo described the U.S. and North Korea as “getting pretty close” to announcing a time and place for the meeting, but said it was “hard to know” when such an announcement might come, citing issues nailing down logistics with his North Korean counterparts.

American officials have not commented on where a second meeting might take place, though North Korean officials have signaled their desire for Trump to visit the capital Pyongyang.

Timing is another matter. While the White House originally desired a second summit in the weeks leading up the November midterm elections, that date is now drawing near, and Kim’s calendar is also filling up.

According to South Korea’s president, Kim is expected to travel to Russia in the coming weeks for a one-on-one meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

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