Thae Yong-ho, former chief of mission at the North Korean embassy in the United Kingdom, testifies during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump called the action "a very smart and gracious gesture!" on Twitter and told reporters that the process "is very important".
South Korea's Defense Ministry said it is monitoring the developments at Punggye-ri closely, deputy spokesman Lee Jin-woo said at a news conference. At that same meeting, however, North Korea said it has been performing a kind of nuclear test classified as "subcritical". The exact date of the closure will depend on weather conditions, the agency said. According to a 2014 government estimate it would cost US$77.3 billion just to rebuild North Korea's decrepit railway network, to say nothing of bullet trains.
State news said the shock announcement is in response to joint US-South Korean military drills.
The diplomatic policy document also described the strengthening U.S. -Japan alliance under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, who took office in January 2017.
North Korea and South Korea have also agreed to hold high-level talks on Wednesday to discuss steps needed to uphold the pledge to denuclearise the Korean peninsula and formally end the Korean War. "If North Korea has really chose to denuclearize, it has no reason not to invite them".
Tensions had been mounting for years as Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes saw it subjected to multiple rounds of increasingly strict sanctions by the UN Security Council, the US, EU, South Korea and others, and Trump last year threatened the North with "fire and fury".
Cauvery row: Centre suggests 9-member panel to regulate water distribution
But the order was not obeyed, leading to Tamil Nadu government preferring a contempt petition against the Union government. Mr Palaniswamy further said that former Chief Minister Jayalalitha had taken effective and serious steps on the issue.
"Commercial satellite imagery from May 7 provided the first definitive evidence that dismantlement of the test site was already well underway", the website wrote.
But US intelligence officials have said it remains usable and could be reactivated "in a relatively short period of time" if it was closed.
While South Korea's government appeared to downplay the absence of nuclear experts and global watchdogs, the USA and Japan stressed the need to invite them for a more verifiable process.
The site analyzed images which show significant changes that have been made at the location which are consistent with decommissioning.
The North said it will hold a ceremony at the site next week to allow local and global journalists to witness the efforts.
"It would, however, require North Korea to clear out the test tunnels and rebuild any infrastructure that might be removed - or dig new tunnels at the site or elsewhere".
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