Less than a week before North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un meets with South Korean President Moon Jae-In, Pyongyang decides to take two significant steps to making denuclearization of the country a very strong possibility.
According to North Korea’s state-run news agency, KCNA, Kim Jong-Un has decided to stop all tests on nuclear weapons, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and to close down a key nuclear test site.
Since 2006, all of North Korea’s nuclear tests were conducted at the Punggye-ri test site including the most powerful test explosion last September 2017.
Kim’s instructions came into immediate effect.
Upon confirmation of the news, United States President Donald Trump released the following tweet:
“North Korea has agreed to suspend all nuclear tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for South Korea and the world – big progress! Look forward to our summit.”
South Korea issued a statement applauding Kim’s decision:
“It will create a very positive environment for the success of the upcoming inter-Korean and North-US summits.”
KCNA reported that the decision was influenced by Kim’s belief that North Korea had reached its goal and that it was time for a change in direction:
“The whole party and the whole party should now focus on the development of the socialist economy. This is the party’s new strategic policy line. A fresh climate of détente and peace is being created on the Korean peninsula and the region, and dramatic changes are being made in the international political landscape.”
Kim added that the people of North Korea should see the decision as a celebration of a “great victory”:
“As the weaponization of nuclear weapons has been verified, it is not necessary for us to conduct any more nuclear tests or test launches of mid- and long- range missiles or ICBMs. The nuclear test site has completed its mission.”
Despite the positive development regarding the possibility of North Korea’s denuclearization, Japan believes the news should be viewed with caution.
Itsunori Onodera, Defence Minister of Japan, noted that discussions of denuclearization must involve all types of weapons North Korea could still use to threaten its neighbors:
“This is not the time for Japan, the United States, and the international community to ease pressure on North Korea.”
Kim’s announcement came one day after a live phone call between him and President Moon.
If the summit between the two Koreas is successful, it will pave the way for a historic meeting between Kim and President Trump sometime in May or June.