United Nations chief welcomes North Korean pledge to close nuclear site


North Korea is set to hold a ceremony for dismantling the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri between May 23 and 25, depending on weather conditions, ahead of the June 12 meeting in Singapore between U.S President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo makes trips to probe North Korea's willingness to go through with denuclearization, something it has promised and reneged on multiple times in the past, Trump's stance on Pyongyang has emerged as very hardline.

This is what happened in April, following the North-South summit and Kim's pledge to seek a complete denuclearisation of the peninsula and a formal end to the Korean War.

North Korea says it will dismantle its Punggye-ri test site between May 23 and 25 in the presence of local and global media.

The North said it will hold a ceremony at the site next week to allow local and global journalists to witness the efforts. But just because President Trump appears ready to accede to what the North Koreans have always wanted doesn't mean we should harbor unrealistic ideas about what is possible. Shares of South Korea construction and railway firms have soared, and land prices are reportedly rising near the demilitarized zone border with the North in anticipation of increased cross-border business activities. "We hope that the sound of dynamite blowing up the Punggye-ri tunnels will be a gun salute in a journey toward a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons", Seoul's presidential spokesperson said. Most notably he seems to be focused now on eliminating the nuclear threat to the United States rather than North Korea's nuclear weapons in general. "This has been the trade-off that has been pending for 25 years", Pompeo told 'Fox News Sunday.' Pompeo was speaking to Fox's Chris Wallace just a few days after he returned to the USA from his second meeting with Kim, during which they were supposed to thrash out the details of the Trump-Kim summit on June, 12. We learned afterwards that Pompeo had gone secretly to North Korea.

It followed earlier reports in Japanese media that a high-level North Korean official was in Beijing to brief China about Pompeo's recent visit to Pyongyang. State-run media has repeatedly chided the U.S. for saying North Korea must give up its weapons completely for sanctions relief, with a foreign ministry spokesman saying this month the USA was "deliberately provoking" the country.

South Korean President Moon Jae In welcomed the announcement Monday, calling it an "initial step in the complete denuclearisation of North Korea".

However, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she did not believe that Moon would be a part of the historic summit in Singapore the following month.

Trump had announced the three men's release on Twitter Wednesday and said they were in "good health".

"If North Korea has really made a decision to denuclearize, it has no reason not to invite them", the editorial said. "There's no notecards. It is Chairman Kim in this case interacting with me directly, having a robust discussion about what the outlines of a successful negotiation between our two countries might ultimately be", added Pompeo.