North Korea says it has destroyed its nuclear test site in a burst of fire and hopes for the future.
The government of Kim Jong Un brought international journalists to a series of explosions at its Punggye-ri site in the mountainous north of the country, where it has previously tested the nuclear weapons that have made it an international pariah.
The destruction included two tunnels, a barracks and observation towers, according to South Korea’s Yonhap, which said that American British, Chinese and Russian journalists were all invited.
Kim has announced that his nuclear and missile programs have been a success, and earlier announced the destruction of the site as he entered into talks with both his neighbors in South Korea and the U.S.
Many observers viewed it as a good sign ahead of a potential meeting with President Trump, which is tentatively scheduled for June 12 but recently come into doubt.
However, North Korea did not invite international inspectors to the demolition of the place that has been an important component of its seven nuclear tests.
The regime has also said that it is suspending missile tests, which sparked the renewed focus on the region last year after it became capable of hitting the continental United States with a weapon of mass destruction.
It is unclear if the concessions will lead to real denuclearization, the goal of the Trump-Kim summit and a measure which North Korea has often linked to the departure of American troops from the South.
Despite hope after a historic summit between Kim and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in last month, the North has recently taken a harder line and on Wednesday said it would not “beg” for dialogue while warning of a “nuclear showdown.”
Choe Son-hui, a top aide to Kim, also said that Vice President Mike Pence was “stupid” for mentioning that North Korea could end up like the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi if it did not make a deal.
It was not entirely clear why Pence made the connection, as Gaddafi agreed to abandon a nuclear program in the early 2000s but was later brought down and seen on video being killed after a Western military intervention in the country.