- North Korea this week is expected to close its underground nuclear testing site before a crowd of foreign journalists.
- By inviting journalists to cover the event, North Korea is showing good will before a summit between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.
- But the destruction of the test site leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s unclear whether this move will gain North Korea any support in coming talks.
North Korea gathered up some 30 foreign journalists on Wednesday morning for a trip to a mountain where it carried out a massive nuclear test in September – but this time, North Korea will be closing the site down.
Journalists from the US, the UK, Russia, China, and South Korea gathered in Wonsan, North Korea, on Wednesday before being told to ship out to the test site.
Journalists were not allowed to bring their phones or equipment to test the radiation levels around the site – a serious concern as the last nuclear test reportedly reshaped the mountain and may have leaked some radioactive material.
While the destruction of the test site is meant as a show of good will, it has been done in a particularly authoritarian way. South Korean journalists had been excluded from the trip until the last minute in protest over a US-South Korean military drill.
Additionally, the destruction of the underground nuclear site doesn’t meet US or international standards for verifiable or complete denuclearization.
North Korea plans to collapse access tunnels to the site, but it can always build more tunnels, dig the tunnels back out again, or test somewhere else.
And if North Korea truly has completed its nuclear program, as it says it has, then it no longer needs an active test site anyway. The US has maintained nuclear weapons without testing them for decades.