SEOUL, The ruling Democratic Party on Sunday welcomed North Korea's announcement of a detailed plan to dismantle its nuclear test site as a first step toward complete denuclearization, while the main opposition Liberty Korea Party downplayed it as nothing new.
The North's foreign ministry announced Saturday night that it will dismantle its Punggye-ri nuclear test site between May 23 and 25, and will invite journalists from South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Britain to cover the dismantling on-site.
"We welcome the decision to shut down the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which is the first step toward complete denuclearization," Rep. Baek Hye-ryun, a spokesperson of the ruling party, said in a statement. "This will serve as an opportunity to promote the trust of the international community, including the United States, (in North Korea) ahead of the U.S.-North Korea summit."
The main opposition LKP, however, downplayed the North's announcement.
In a Facebook post Sunday, LKP leader Hong Joon-pyo likened the planned nuclear test site demolition to the North's 2008 blowing up of a cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, pointing out that despite the much-hyped gesture, the regime later backtracked on its promise to abandon its nuclear program.
"North Korea already deceived the world in 2008 with the cooling tower explosion show," Hong said. "The Punggye-ri nuclear test site shutdown show that they're planning to hold is nothing now."
Hong also said he hopes the upcoming summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be a success through consistent pressure on the communist nation.
Trump and Kim are scheduled to meet in Singapore on June 12 for what will be the first-ever summit of the two countries.
Source: Yonhap News Agency