North Korea to become nuclear weapons state: Former diplomat

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Punggye-ri, in the northeast of the country, has been the site of all six of the North's nuclear tests, the latest and by far the most powerful in September previous year, which Pyongyang said was an H-bomb.

No. A 38 North analysis of satellite images taken May 7 showed that several support buildings outside the northern, western and southern portals had been razed while some mining cart rails had been removed.

But North Korea has not made public what concessions it is offering, and the South's JoongAng Ilbo daily noted it had only invited journalists to witness the operation at the Punggye-ri site.

The photo, taken April 27, 2018, shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un holding their hands up together shortly after signing a joint declaration following their bilateral summit held at the border village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas.

The reclusive state also released three U.S. citizens imprisoned in North Korea as newly confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang for a second time last week to prepare for Donald Trump's upcoming summit.

"No president has ever put America in a position where the North Korean leadership thought that this was truly possible, that the Americans would actually do this, would lead to the place where America was no longer held at risk by the North Korean regime", he said.

Trump struck an optimistic tone on North Korea as he personally welcomed home the freed American detainees early Thursday.

Some key facilities remain intact and the tunnel entrances remain open, however.

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Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are set to meet June 12 in Singapore for the first ever summit between a sitting USA president and a North Korean leader.

The North also said for the first time at the meeting that it had been conducting "subcritical" nuclear tests.

A move like denuclearisation would conflict the integral power structure of North Korea, Thae added. Washington is demanding the verifiable dismantling of the North's nuclear weapons program.

Pyongyang pledged to close the testing ground after Kim last month declared the country's nuclear force complete and said it had no further need for the complex.

A top defector said that North Korea will never completely give up its nuclear weapons. Chinese geologists claimed in a study the cavity caused by last September's nuclear test collapsed shortly after the detonation, causing a powerful tremor.

They also agreed to stop all hostile acts over "land, sea and air" and to resume family reunions on August 15.

Pompeo, who has met twice with the North Korean leader to discuss the summit, said he was "convinced" Kim shared United States goals.