In another foreign policy accomplishment for the Trump administration, North Korea has carried out today what it promised– the demolition of its nuclear test site by setting off a series of explosions over several hours in the presence of foreign journalists.
The explosions at the nuclear test site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated northeast were centered on three tunnels into the underground site and a number of observation towers in the surrounding area.
The planned closing was previously announced by leader Kim Jong Un ahead of his planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next month.
The North’s decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site has generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Kim to set a positive tone ahead of the summit. The move is expected to be followed by many more significant measures to meet President Trump’s demands for real denuclearization.
By bringing in the foreign media, mainly television networks, the North is apparently hoping to have images of the closing – including explosions to collapse tunnel entrances – broadcast around the world.
The summit plan has hit a number of speed bumps recently as both sides have begun trading barbs and taking tougher positions. Trump, though, is not moved and met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday at the White House for consultations and suggested the summit could be delayed or even called off entirely. Trump has said regardless of the outcome, it is important for his administration to risk failure in the pursuit of peace on the peninsula. It’s something, he says, no previous administration was willing to do.
Even so, both sides still seem to want to hold the meeting, which would be unprecedented.
Success in talks would be a huge accomplishment for Trump with talk of him being a serious contender for the Nobel Peace Prize–as suggested by the South Korean leader.
The developments with North Korea are a sharp contrast to news analysis last summer when American media was saying that the President could not be trusted with such significant negotiations–even implying he was not worthy to be the keeper of the “nuclear button” of America’s arsenal.
Now, many of those detractors are applauding Trump’s methodical, yet unorthodox, process for bringing North Korea to the bargaining table.