Mr. Kim has said that when he meets with Mr. Trump, he is willing to discuss relinquishing his country’s nuclear arsenal in return for security guarantees, the lifting of sanctions and other incentives from the United States.
Skeptics fear that Mr. Kim does not really intend to give up his nuclear weapons and is merely trying to soften his image, escape sanctions and make it more difficult for Mr. Trump to continue to threaten military action. But South Korean officials argue that Mr. Kim is willing to bargain away his nuclear weapons in return for ending hostilities and getting Washington’s help to improve his country’s economy.
North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests at Punggye-ri.
Some analysts have downplayed the significance of North Korea’s decision to shut down the Punggye-ri site. They said that after six tests, all conducted in deep tunnels, the place has caved in and become too unstable for another test. But when he met with Mr. Moon last month, Mr. Kim rebuffed the skeptics, saying that the test site still had two tunnels where nuclear tests could be conducted.
During a meeting last month of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party, North Korea said it no longer needed nuclear and long-range missile tests or the nuclear test site because its had learned how to build nuclear warheads and mount them on missiles. It said it would now focus national resources on rebuilding its economy.
South Korean officials have said North Korea’s promise to invite outsiders to Punggye-ri reflected “a willingness to take proactive steps in verifying” its commitment to denuclearization, which will be the key topic in the planned summit between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump.