North Korea Gets Ready to Destroy Its Main Nuclear Test Site

Former South Korean National-Security Adviser: The US May Have to Withdraw Some Troops

"This could be something that comes right to the end and doesn't happen", said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"There's a very substantial chance that it won't work out", Trump said in the Oval Office, where he was sitting for critical talks with his South Korean counterpart.

USA officials say preparations are still underway. Trump has insisted he remains committed to the summit.

Pompeo, who was director of the Central Intelligence Agency before becoming secretary of state in April when Trump fired Rex Tillerson, has met twice with Kim in Pyongyang.

Mr Trump expressed suspicion that the North's recent aggressive barbs were influenced by Mr Kim's unannounced trip to China two weeks ago - his second in as many months. "We had real conversations, not stilted talking points like we've had in the past with the North Koreans", Pompeo said. Last week, one of Jong-un's top aide had lambasted the national security advisor John Bolton for suggesting that North Koreans should completely denuclearize before receiving reciprocal benefits from the United States, the daily reported.

From there they are expected to travel for some 20 hours up the east coast by train and bus to the remote test site-a vivid illustration of the impoverished country's notoriously decrepit transport infrastructure. "North Korea (DPRK) summit will truly be successful and whether the complete denuclearization of North Korea (DPRK) will be realized", he said.

Global journalists on Wednesday set out on an arduous journey to witness the dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear test site, Punggye-ri - an event that experts predict will be more about PR than substance.

There was euphoria when the planned summit with the US was announced but since then there have been doubts on both sides. That claim appeared to be given some credibility when a South Korean television station broadcast an interview with four of the waitresses earlier this month.

President Donald Trump says he will know next week whether his planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still on, as his administration looks to keep the historic meeting on track. But on Wednesday, Seoul's unification ministry said they had been allowed to attend at the last minute.

The facility is where Pyongyang carried out all six of its nuclear weapons tests to date, beginning in 2006, including the most powerful one last September.

Reporters from China, Britain, the USA and Russian Federation yesterday flew from Beijing to the North Korean city of Wonsan, from where they will travel for some 20 hours up the east coast by train and bus to the remote test site. The eight South Koreans arrived in Wonsan on Wednesday, where they were forced to leave their radiation detectors, satellite phones and Bluetooth mouses before they all set off for the test site, according to South Korean media pool reports.

To date, North Korea has taken few concrete steps beyond halting the nuclear and missile tests that ratcheted up tensions a year ago.

Then, on Tuesday, North Korea's state media ran a commentary demanding that South Korea silence defectors who distributed leaflets critical of the Kim regime.

North Korea has always justified its nuclear program as a deterrent against perceived US hostility. It has also criticised joint air combat drills between the United States and South Korea.

America's superpower rivals were tracking the developments closely.

North Korea, which views its nukes as a guarantee that its authoritarian regime won't go the same way as those in Libya and Iraq, has said it wants a "phased and synchronous" approach to denuclearization, which neighboring China supports.

Mr Trump indicated he believes the meeting will take place, but left open the possibility it would be delayed or even cancelled if a fruitful outcome does not seem likely.

"The president has made clear we are prepared to provide security assurances" to Kim, "if we get a good deal", Pompeo said.

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