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North Korea's Nuclear Site Demolition Was a Stunt to Get Donald Trump to Negotiate, Experts Say

North Korea claimed that it blew up its main nuclear testing site in the run-up to a landmark meeting that was scheduled with President Donald Trump. However, experts warned that the highly publicized explosions were just a publicity stunt and that the site could be put back to work quickly now that Trump has canceled the meeting. 

“We should not fool ourselves. North Korea is not destroying its nuclear testing grounds. This is another attempt by Pyongyang to try and rehab their horrific public image. The media, as well as the public, should see this for what it is—a nuclear dog and pony show that changes nothing,” Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, a public policy think tank in Washington, told Newsweek.

Foreign journalists were invited Thursday to witness a huge explosion at North Korea’s main nuclear testing site under Mount Manap. Officials claimed that the tunnels under the mountain are now officially decommissioned. The Associated Press sent a camera crew to film the explosion and reported that several observation towers were also destroyed during the much-publicized event, as were the underground tunnels leading to the site.

“Clearly, we should not view this as any sort of measure of restraint or goodwill—they could reopen these facilities in weeks or at the latest two to three months,” Kazianis continued. “In fact, both India and Pakistan stopped at a similar number of atomic tests. The North Koreans may just not need to test that many nuclear weapons to ensure the potency of their arsenal.”

The decision to blow up the nuclear site, where the rogue regime has carried out all six of its nuclear tests, was billed as a demonstration of goodwill on the part of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Kim had pledged to decommission the site before the meeting he had scheduled with Trump in Singapore on June 12. North Korea’s state media announced that the site’s demolition was done "to ensure the transparency of discontinuance of nuclear test.”

Still, no international inspectors were present during the event to confirm that the site has been truly demolished. Taking to Twitter, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that he suspects that the explosion was a meaningless gesture. 

Nevertheless, some observers said the decision to carry out the explosion was a sign that North Korea is serious about pursuing peace on the Korean peninsula, and that it is likely the talks will go forward.

"The dismantlement of the testing site isn't irreversible, but it wouldn't make sense for Pyongyang to take this action if it had plans for additional underground nuclear tests in the foreseeable future," Daniel Wertz, associate director of the National Committee on North Korea, told Newsweek.

Trump canceled the meeting with North Korea on Thursday, issuing a scathing letter containing subtle threats that the two countries could go to war. 

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used," Trump wrote. 

It is unclear how North Korea will respond, and if the country will begin working to revive its demolished nuclear site immediately. 

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