North Korea invited foreign journalists to witness the destruction of a nuclear testing facility just hours before President Donald Trump canceled a planned summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday morning.
North Korea demolished the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, where it has conducted six nuclear tests in recent months, in order to "bring peace and stability" to the world, a government official told a Sky News journalist at the scene.
That olive branch, however, proved short-lived as Trump wrote a letter to Kim explaining that North Korea's "tremendous anger and open hostility" in advance of the planned meeting in Singapore on June 12 inspired him to cancel the meeting.
DigitalGlobe, a company that operates a network of private satellites, provided Business Insider with a series of satellite images of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site just prior to destruction.
Check out the images below:
Here's an overview of the main portion of the site. The primary offices and administrative buildings are in the center of this image.
Trump sought North Korea's full denuclearization prior to the planned meeting, though he ratcheted down that demand in recent days.
In a show of self-described "transparency," North Korea invited foreign journalists to witness the demolition of the testing site.
Source: Sky News
"There was a huge explosion, you could feel it. Dust came at you, the heat came at you. It was extremely loud," Sky News journalist Tom Cheshire, who was at the scene, said of the demolition.
Source: Sky News
But the destruction of Punggye-ri may have been just for show. "What does it actually mean in the long term? Probably not that much, unfortunately," Melissa Hanham, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told NPR.
By making a huge spectacle of destroying the facility, North Korea could show the US it was serious about denuclearization. However, according to Hanham, the Punggye-ri isn't a critical piece of North Korea's nuclear infrastructure.
North Korea has been testing weapons at the site for over a decade, and it's not clear that the regime needs to continue using the site to test weapons.
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