Pyongyang: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un on Saturday said that his nation has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests ahead of the fresh round of negotiations with South Korea and the United States.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday that “under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission,” as quoted by the state-run KCNA news agency.
The announcement comes less than a week before the North Korean leader meets South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a summit in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula, ahead of the eagerly-awaited encounter with Trump himself.
There was no clear indication in the nation’s announcement if it would be willing to deal away its arsenal. The East Asian nation rather expressed confidence about its nuclear force, which leader Kim Jong Un declared as complete in November after a slew of weapons tests that included the underground detonation of a purported thermonuclear warhead and flight tests of three intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Within minutes of the report being issued, Trump tweeted: “This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.” Seoul too welcomed the announcement, calling it “meaningful progress” towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
But Kim offered no sign he might be willing to give up what he called the North’s “treasured sword”, saying its possession of nuclear weapons was “the firm guarantee by which our descendants can enjoy the most dignified and happiest life in the world”.
Last year it carried out its sixth nuclear blast, by far its most powerful to date, while Kim and Trump traded threats of war and personal insults as tensions ramped up. South Korean envoys have previously cited Kim as promising no more tests, but Saturday’s news is the first such announcement directly by Pyongyang.
The North has long demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the peninsula and an end to its nuclear umbrella over South Korea, something unthinkable in Washington.