North Korea has dismantled and blown up its nuclear test site, in a planned move portrayed by the isolated regime as a goodwill move ahead of a potential summit next month with the US.
It is not yet clear to what extent the northeastern Punggye-ri facility has been demolished, but foreign journalists invited to witness the destruction described a series of ‘huge explosions’.
The explosions at the nuclear test site deep in the mountains of the North’s sparsely populated northeast were reportedly centered on three tunnels into the underground site and a number of observation towers in the surrounding area.
‘There was a huge explosion, you could feel it. Dust came at you, the heat came at you. It was extremely loud,’ Sky News’ Tom Cheshire, who was among the journalists invited, wrote on the British broadcaster’s website.
Mr Cheshire added that the entrances to the tunnels had been ‘theatrically rigged’ with plastic explosives and ‘wires everywhere’. Yonhap news agency, citing South Korean reporters at the scene, said multiple explosions were heard throughout the day, beginning at 11am (3am GMT) until 4.17pm.
Punggye-ri has been the staging ground for all six of the North’s nuclear tests, including its latest and by far most powerful one in September last year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb.