Safety, Verification Concerns Loom Over North Korea's Plan to Shut Nuclear Site

Satellite images taken in April 2017 show the mountainous landscape around the nuclear test site and the different portals leading to a labyrinth of tunnels

"DPRK will join worldwide desires and efforts for a total ban on nuclear tests", North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Han Tae Song said in an address to the Conference on Disarmament, using North Korea's official acronym.

The DPRK's UN Ambassador Han Tae Song made the remarks during a conference on disarmament, and the comments come with North Korea set to close its nuclear testing facility at Punggye-ri.

Some observers believe that Han's remark suggests that the North offered to be part of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) ahead of its summit with the US slated for next month. North Korea is one of three Annex 2 states that are non-signatories to the CTBT, along with India and Pakistan.

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However, according to experts, "more significant buildings around the site are still untouched". North Korean authorities have promised to demolish its nuclear test site in the period from 23 to 25 may, depending on weather conditions.

"DPRK will further make peace efforts to achieve the development of inter-Korean relations, defuse acute military tensions and substantially remove the danger of war on the Korean peninsula", Han said.

He said that discontinuation of nuclear tests is an important process for global disarmament and for North Korea.

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