The United States on Tuesday hailed North Korea's invitation of inspectors to a demolished nuclear test site as a "very good step" on the path to denuclearization.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their meeting in Pyongyang Sunday that outside inspectors would be allowed in to Punggye-ri to verify the facility's destruction in May, according to the State Department.
The North carried out all six of its nuclear weapons tests at the facility before blowing up its tunnels in front of a group of international journalists to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization.
"That's a very good step," department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a regular news briefing. "What you have seen were a bunch of journalists brought out to that site, and you saw some sort of an explosion. Sending in inspectors to take a look around is an entirely different step and a step in the right direction."
Critics have downplayed the site's destruction as a symbolic measure with little bearing on the actual denuclearization of the regime.
Pompeo told reporters after leaving Pyongyang that the inspectors would be let in as soon as the logistics are worked out. But he offered no other details, including which organizations the inspectors would represent.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim are expected to hold a second summit before the end of the year to follow up on their Singapore summit in June.
Trump said Tuesday that three or four locations are being considered and the date "won't be too far away."
Nauert dodged a question on whether the planning hinges simply on logistical issues or more steps related to denuclearization.
"We have not said anything about waiting for North Korea to do anything more in order to have that summit," she said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency