NOT ACCORDING TO PLAN

Photos: North Korea’s explosive, “peace-loving” gesture of dismantling its nuclear site

Blow up, blow off.
Blow up, blow off.
Image: APTN via AP
By
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

North Korea’s grand gesture to dismantle its nuclear site is now a metaphor for the fate of the Trump-Kim summit.

Yesterday (May 24) the rogue regime appeared to destroy its only known nuclear testing site, Punggye-ri, in three explosions witnessed by invited members of the foreign press. Just hours later, Donald Trump called off his much anticipated June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un. In an emotional break-up letter, Trump didn’t mention the demolition of the site, but cited the North’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” as reasons for scrapping the plan.

The coincidence comes as the US and North Korea showed greater discrepancies in their approaches on how to achieve denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in the past few weeks. Trump administration officials, including national security adviser John Bolton and vice president Mike Pence, have called on North Korea to follow the “Libya model”—which the North did not take to kindly given how a US-backed invasion later killed Muammar Qaddafi—by giving up its nuclear program upfront. In a fiery rebuttal, North Korea blasted Pence as a “political dummy” and threatened the US with a nuclear strike. The provocative remarks also overshadowed the self-described “peace-loving” country’s gesture to release three American citizens earlier this month who had been held in the country.

Experts have said that the demolition is a largely symbolic move that won’t affect North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. In addition, it’s unclear whether the explosions rendered the tunnels at the testing site unusable, or only caused limited damage. No international inspectors were invited to witness the demolition, and journalists at the scene had their radiation-measuring equipment confiscated, according to CNN.

North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test facility is shown in this DigitalGlobe satellite image in North Hamgyong Province, North Korea, May 23, 2018. Satellite image ©2018 DigitalGlobe.
A satellite image showing North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test facility on May 23, 2018.
Image: Maxar company via Reuters
Journalists film the fourth tunnel of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground is seen before it is blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018. Picture taken May 24, 2018
Journalists film one of the tunnels of Punggye-ri before it is blown up.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters
A North Korean official speaks to the media about the dismantling process prior to the detonation of explosives during the first day of dismantling at North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, North Korea, 24 May 2018 (issued 25 May 2018). On 24 May North Korea started to demolish its Punggye-ri nuclear test facility, in the country's northeast. South Korean journalists covering the process said the demolition of the site was carried out in a series of explosions over several hours on the day.
A North Korean official talks about the dismantling process prior to the detonation of explosives.
Image: EPA-EFE/News 1
A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of the third tunnel of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground before it is blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018. Picture taken May 24, 2018
A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of a tunnel of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters
The third tunnel of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground is seen before it is blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018. Picture taken May 24, 2018.
A tunnel of Punggye-ri is seen before it is blown up.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters
Journalists look around the 3rd tunnel of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground before it is blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018.
Journalists look around one of the tunnels of Punggye-ri.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters
A command post of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground is blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018. Picture taken May 24, 2018.
A command post of Punggye-ri is blown up during the dismantlement process.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters
The second tunnel and an observatory of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground are blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018. Picture taken May 24, 2018
A tunnel and an observatory of Punggye-ri being dismantled.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters
North Korean officials watch the dismantlement process of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018. Picture taken May 24, 2018.
North Korean officials watch the dismantlement process of Punggye-ri.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters
A North Korean official points a file of stones as he explains to journalists after the second tunnel of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground was blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018. Picture taken May 24, 2018.
A North Korean official points a pile of stones after a tunnel was blown up.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters
Journalists and North Korean officials look around the site where the 2nd tunnel and an observatory of Punggye-ri nuclear test ground were blown up during the dismantlement process in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea May 24, 2018.
Journalists and North Korean officials look around the site where the second tunnel and an observatory of the test site were blown up.
Image: News1/Pool via Reuters