Europe

Global body questions Kim site demolition

The world's top nuclear test ban official says experts must visit North Korea to ensure the facility truly was completely destroyed last month.

International experts should inspect North Korea's nuclear test site to verify whether the explosions that were carried out at the facility last month really destroyed it for good, the world's top nuclear test ban official says.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) chief Lassina Zerbo acknowledged that his organisation has not yet received signals or an invitation to go to the Punggye-ri site "at this point in time, not directly from any party on the negotiating table."

Zerbo spoke to dpa after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met for a summit in Singapore, where Kim committed to freeing the Korean Peninsula from nuclear weapons, while Trump offered security guarantees to the secluded Communist country.

The statement did not contain details on how this should be achieved, such as inspections or a pledge to hold off from further North Korean nuclear test explosions.

Executive Secretary Zerbo did not criticise this outcome, pointing to further expected negotiations by the two sides to hammer out the disarmament process.

"I would focus on the historic moment that this summit brings to the international community," he said.

However, the CTBTO chief stressed the need for inspecting Punggye-ri, where international reporters were invited in May to witness as blasts went off, in what Pyongyang declared to be the demolition of its test facility.

Zerbo pointed out that the reporters were allowed to stand only 500 metres away from the explosions, even though the blast should have been big enough to destroy the underground test facility.

"That's an indication that the explosion wasn't that big," he said. "There is an opportunity still, should any expertise be required, to verify that the sites are indeed not usable."

"We stand ready" to carry out this work, Zerbo said.

Besides the CTBTO, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna has said it is prepared to send its inspectors to North Korea on short notice if it were asked to do so.

While the CTBTO is focused on monitoring nuclear weapons tests and test sites, the IAEA is specialised in inspecting other nuclear facilities that can be used for civilian as well as military purposes.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch