North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions as a group of foreign journalists looked on.
The explosions at the test site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated north east were supposed to build confidence ahead of a planned summit next month between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump. But Mr Trump cancelled the meeting on Thursday, citing ‘tremendous anger and open hostility’ in a North Korean statement released earlier in the day.
The blasts were centred on three tunnels at the underground site and a number of buildings in the surrounding area. North Korea held a closing ceremony afterwards, with officials from its nuclear arms programme in attendance.
North Korea’s state media called the closure of the site part of a process to build ‘a nuclear-free, peaceful world’ and ‘global nuclear disarmament’.
North Korea’s decision to close the Punggye-ri nuclear test site had generally been seen as a welcome gesture by Mr Kim to set a positive tone ahead of the summit. In a statement earlier on Thursday, South Korea’s National Security Council called the closing the North’s ‘first measure towards complete denuclearisation’.