United States will need to give North Korea security assurances, Pompeo says

US Prisoners from North Korea

An analysis Monday by the 38 North website said commercial imagery taken last week showed several operational support buildings had been razed, and rails for mining carts apparently removed.

New commercial satellite imagery has provided the first definitive evidence that North Korea is dismantling its Punggye-ri nuclear test site ahead of a scheduled ceremony next week to mark the event, US researchers said Monday.

The move comes weeks ahead of a historical meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump during which the two countries will talk about denuclearisation.

Pompeo - who recently returned from another set of meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un - said the benefits North Korea can gain by scrapping its nuclear ambitions should be obvious.

"DPRK will join worldwide desires and efforts for a total ban on nuclear tests", North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva Han Tae-song said in an address to the Conference on Disarmament, using North Korea's official acronym.

South Korea's military said on Tuesday that Pyongyang was moving ahead with plans to close its nuclear test site, according to the Associated Press news agency.

"Those are the kind of things that, if we get what it is the President has demanded - the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea - that the American people will offer in spades".

Pompeo dangled the prospect of a gusher of USA investment in North Korea, with upgrades in energy, infrastructure, technology and agriculture, if a deal is struck. But some experts still doubt how committed Kim is to taking serious disarmament steps because his country was close to achieving its goal of possessing nuclear missiles targeting the mainland US after decades of struggle. "Thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture!"

Last month, Pompeo became the first known U.S. official to meet with Kim, where he helped lay the groundwork for the upcoming meeting with Trump.

In a first comment on the North Korean proposal on Sunday, Seoul welcomed the decision to include foreign media as a move towards transparency on the path to denuclearization.

"The invited reporters will receive visas from the North Korean embassy in China and fly from Beijing on May 22 to Kalma airport in Wonsan along with other foreign reporters", the ministry said, citing information from the North.

Some experts have said the site had already been rendered unusable after reports that the mountain was on the verge of collapse after the sixth and most powerful underground blast took place in September. 38North analysts noted that several "key buildings" of Punggye-ri complex were demolished during those 15 days, as well as or secondary constructions.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at California's Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said in a blog post this week that recent satellite images had shown the removal of some buildings from the site.

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