US President Donald Trump has said that North Korea is blowing up its nuclear and missile test sites and that a process of "total denuclearization ... has already started taking place”, PressTV reported.
"They’ve stopped the sending of missiles, including ballistic missiles. They’re destroying their engine site. They’re blowing it up. They’ve already blown up one of their big test sites, in fact it’s actually four of their big test sites,” Trump said on Thursday at a meeting of his Cabinet at the White House.
"And the big thing is it will be a total denuclearization, which has already started taking place,” he added.
On Wednesday, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was asked whether North Korea has done anything toward denuclearization since a historic summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.
“No, I'm not aware of that. I mean, obviously, it's the very front end of a process. The detailed negotiations have not begun. I wouldn't expect that at this point.”
After the first ever face-to-face meeting between leaders of the US and North Korea, Trump and Kim promised in a joint statement to work toward the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, and the United States promised its Cold War foe security guarantees.
The document says the US and North Korea “commit to establish [sic] new... relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity."
Trump has sounded a triumphant tone since the Singapore summit, but his critics have pointed to the vague wording of the non-binding document, which Trump called a "deal”.
But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that peace efforts still face risks.
Speaking last week during a regional tour to brief South Korean, Japanese and Chinese officials about the Trump-Kim summit, Pompeo said the US remains committed to the "complete, verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization of North Korea.
"We believe that Kim Jong-un understands the urgency... that we must do this quickly," he said of the US effort to have North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program.
"We truly believe that we have a path forward after so many years that can bring peace," Pompeo told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing before talks with President Xi Jinping.
In the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Trump acknowledged that "things can change."
"Personalities can change. Maybe you end up with conflict. Maybe you don't," he said, but added that both he and Pompeo had established a "very strong" relationship with Kim that he said cpuld lead to "tremendous success."
Trump claimed that the "number-one statement" in the document he and Kim signed was "we will immediately begin total denuclearization of North Korea.”
North Korea has long demanded US troops be removed from the Korean peninsula as part of a nuclear deal, but the US has been at pains to stress the issue is not a bargaining chip. The US has about 28,500 service members stationed in South Korea.