Moon asks UN to verify shutdown of North Korea's nuclear test site

South Korean soldiers taking down a propaganda loudspeaker on the border with North Korea yesterday.
South Korean soldiers taking down a propaganda loudspeaker on the border with North Korea yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL • South Korean President Moon Jae In has asked the United Nations to help verify North Korea's planned shutdown of its nuclear test site, the South's Yonhap news agency said.

Mr Moon made the request in a phone call yesterday with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Yonhap reported.

Several days before last Friday's historic summit between Mr Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang had promised to dismantle its Punggye-ri nuclear test site to "transparently guarantee" its dramatic commitment to stop all nuclear and missile tests.

The Punggye-ri site, where North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests, consists of a system of tunnels beneath Mount Mantap in the country's north-east.

Some experts and researchers have speculated that the most recent - and by far largest - blast in September had rendered the entire site unusable.

But Mr Kim said there were two additional, larger tunnels that remain "in very good condition".

Meanwhile, the two Koreas have begun dismantling loudspeakers that blared propaganda across their heavily fortified border, South Korea's Defence Ministry said, fulfilling a promise made at the summit.

Yesterday's moves were the first practical, if small, steps towards reconciliation after Friday's summit.

For decades, with only a few breaks, the two sides have pumped out propaganda at each other from huge banks of speakers as a form of psychological warfare.

The South broadcast a mixture of news, Korean pop songs and criticism of the northern regime, while the North blasted the southern government and praised its own socialist system.

As a sign of goodwill, the South had stopped its propaganda ahead of the summit, and the North followed suit. The incremental steps come amid speculation about where Mr Kim will meet US President Donald Trump, who said their planned summit could take place in three or four weeks.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2018, with the headline 'Moon asks UN to verify shutdown of North Korea's nuclear test site'. Print Edition | Subscribe