By Bloomberg
May 12, 2018

North Korea has set the date to begin shutting down a major nuclear test site as it continues to pursue improved relations with the world.

A ceremony will be held between May 23 and 25 for the dismantling of its northern nuclear test ground, weather permitting, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday, quoting the Foreign Ministry.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has taken a series of steps this year to ease tensions with the U.S. and he is set to meet U.S. President Donald Trump for historic talks next month in Singapore. In another sign of improving relations, North Korea this week released three U.S. citizens who had been imprisoned in the country.

The isolated Asian nation, which had already pledged to begin dismantling the site this month, will invite journalists from China, Russia, the U.S., the U.K. and South Korea to cover the event, KCNA said in the statement.

Kim last month said the site, Punggye-ri, built in a secluded mountain valley northeast of Pyongyang and the site for all six of the regime’s nuclear blasts, would be shuttered and further tests had been suspended, KCNA reported April 21. The site has already been in doubt amid signs of structural weakness, and some observers have said it would be unsafe to do more tests there.

The dismantling will include collapsing its test tunnels with explosives and blocking their entrances, removing observation facilities and withdrawing guards and researchers from the site. The test ground will be completely closed after the process, KCNA said.

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