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North Korea Demolishes Nuke Test Site with Series of Blasts

05-24-2018

Was it just a show or did North Korea really blow up a nuclear testing facility?

On Thursday, several tunnels were destroyed beneath Mount Mantap at the Punggye-ri nuclear testing site in the northeastern region of the country.

It was the site where all six of North Korea's nuclear tests were conducted.

"There was a huge explosion. You could feel it. Dust came at you; the heat came at you. It was extremely loud," Tom Cheshire, a journalist for Sky News who was among those invited to witness the event, wrote on the British broadcaster's website. 

Cheshire said North Korean officials showed journalists the tunnels before they were demolished.

"The entrances were ostentatiously rigged with wires and bags of what we were told were plastic explosives," he said.

The two unused tunnels – the western and southern – had remained usable, officials insisted.

The Kim regime did not allow any experts to observe the events, making it difficult to assess what exactly they had done. The reporters were unable to immediately send images due to the lack of internet or cell access in the most inhospitable part of North Korea.

Pyongyang offered to destroy the site earlier this year as part of a diplomatic effort with South Korea and the United States.

But Pentagon officials told CBN News it's believed the site partially collapsed after a test in September 2017 and was rendered unusable.

The demolition came as the North issued another verbal insult, calling Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" and saying it is just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table.

North Korea state media claimed the site had been completely dismantled in the blasts "to ensure the transparency of discontinuance of nuclear test."

White House Reaction

President Donald Trump said Thursday that North Korea may be permitted to give up its nuclear weapons in phases in exchange for relief from sanctions, but said such an approach would have to be "rapid."

"A phased-in approach may need to be a little bit necessary," Trump said in an interview with "Fox & Friends" that aired Thursday. It "would have to be a rapid phase-in."

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