President Donald Trump on Saturday praised North Korea after the country announced further details of its plans to wind down its nuclear weapons testing program in advance of high-level talks with the U.S. in June.
“North Korea has announced that they will dismantle Nuclear Test Site this month, ahead of the big Summit Meeting on June 12th,” the president wrote on Twitter. “Thank you, a very smart and gracious gesture!”
North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Saturday that a “ceremony for the dismantling of the nuclear test ground” will occur weather pending at the remote Punggye-ri site between May 23 and the 25, according to a statement published by the country’s state news agency.
Pyongyang pledged to invite journalists from the U.S., China, Russia, United Kingdom and South Korea to observe the dismantling of the highly sensitive facility that the regime says will include removing all observation facilities, research institutes and guard houses on the grounds, and shuttering all tunnels by explosion.
South Korean officials previously said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to close the site in May. According to multiple news reports, scientists have questioned whether the site may have partially collapsed in September, rendering it unsafe for future testing.
Trump welcomed the move and has continued to express optimism about talks scheduled between himself and Kim on June 12 in Singapore. Trump said at a rally in Indiana earlier this week that he is not afraid to walk away from the negotiating table, but continues to suggest Kim might agree to denuclearizing.
Trump celebrated another breakthrough with North Korea early Thursday morning, when he personally welcomed home three detainees who were being held in the country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to North Korea this week to continue the planning for the meeting. Pompeo said while the U.S. and Pyongyang have been “adversaries” in the past, “we are now hopeful that we can work together.”