huge explosions from the Punggye-ri nuclear test site
Witnesses have reported huge explosions from the Punggye-ri nuclear test site as North Korea announces it wants to achieve peace by destroying its nukes.
Asia correspondent Tom Cheshire, a British journalist, reported a series of explosions from the e facility just ahead of planned talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
According to North Kores state media, the nuclear site has been completely dismantled to ” ensure the transparency of discontinuance of nuclear test”.
SkyNews reports: Describing the explosions, Cheshire said: “We hiked up into the mountains and watched the detonation from about 500 metres away.
“They counted it down – three, two, one.
“There was a huge explosion, you could feel it. Dust came at you, the heat came at you. It was extremely loud.
“It blew an observation cabin made out of wood to complete smithereens.”
The deputy director of the North Korea Nuclear Weapons Institute told Sky News that the destruction of the facility had been “conducted with high levels of transparency” in a bid to bring “peace and stability” to the Korean peninsula and the world.
The unnamed official added:
“The discontinuance of nuclear tests is an important process in moving towards global nuclear disarmament and we will continue to join hands with all peace-loving people in building a peaceful world, a new independent world where the dreams and ideals of humanity are realized.”
A group of about 20 foreign journalists invited on the trip had been given a briefing by the official who shared “unprecedented detail” of North Korea’s nuclear programme, Cheshire said.
The group of journalists were the only arrivals at Kalma Airport in Wonsan. Pic: Michael Greenfield 1:03
The group had travelled 12 hours overnight in a train with blacked out windows before driving an hour in the mountains through military checkpoints to arrive at Punggye-ri.
They were shown the northern tunnel where North Korea have launched five nuclear weapons to date including a suspected hydrogen bomb in September 2017.
Doors to the tunnel were “theatrically rigged” with plastic explosives and “wires everywhere”, Cheshire said.
“It was all rather spectacular,” he added.
“Huge explosions. Lots of dust.”
North Korea has insisted it will not give up nuclear weapons unilaterally ahead of a planned summit with Mr Trump, scheduled for 12 June in Singapore.
But the US president has said it is the North that has to meet the conditions for the talks to go ahead.
Pyongyang hit out at claims that North Korea may end up like Libya if it does not move forward quickly and irreversibly with concrete measures to get rid of its nuclear weapons.
Choe Son Hui, a vice minister of foreign affairs, criticised the “ignorant” and “stupid” comments made by US Vice President Mike Pence in an interview with Fox News.
Libya gave up its programme at an early stage only to see its longtime dictator overthrown and brutally killed years later.