In front of approximately two dozen reporters from around the world, North Korea destroyed its nuclear test facility in Punggye-ri.
North Korea said that by inviting international media to the event, they would “ensure transparency of discontinuance of the nuclear test.”
Journalists were allowed to look inside three of the four tunnels before the explosions to take a look at the explosives lining the walls of the tunnel. The explosives were described as looking like soccer balls running down the sides of the tunnel.
After moving a safe distance away for the explosions, the journalists were allowed to inspect the damage. Each tunnel was caved in and the entrances were blocked with rubble.
According to CNN reporter Will Ripley, who was at the scene, “They allowed us to open the tunnel doors, take a look inside; we couldn’t actually step into the tunnels. As far as the eye could see, they were rigged with explosives.”
“There were no international (explosives) experts in the group. There was nobody who could look a the explosions and tell us if they were actually deep enough to destroy the tunnels or if they were simply closing up the entrances,” he continued.
There have been some doubts as to the state and usability of the site after a 160 kiloton explosion test in September 2017 revealed extensive damage to the mountain via satellite images.
Any device brought by journalists used to measure nuclear radiation was confiscated by North Korean officials at the airport. British and Chinese reporters both had equipment confiscated.
Either way, the tunnels at the Punggye-ri test site will not be usable for quite a long time, if ever.
Just hours after the destruction of the nuclear test site, the White House announced the cancelation of the planned meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore.
In a letter to Kim Jong Un, Trump said: “Based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting.”
Trump’s statement shows that there is still work to be done by Kim Jong Un and North Korea, that the destruction of their nuclear test facility is not enough to warrant a declaration of peace and that if Kim continues to play hardball, the United States will not take a step back.