North Korea announced on Saturday immediately suspending nuclear and missile tests as well as shutting down a nuclear testing site in the north of the country, ahead of a historic summit with the US President Donald Trump, the country’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in statement that his country no longer needs to conduct nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests, preferring to shift its national focus on improving its economy rather than military, in an apparent bow to heavy economic sanctions against his country.
“From 21 April, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” KCNA said, quoting Kim, who also added, “to guarantee suspension of nuclear tests in a transparent manner, the republic’s northern nuclear test site will be abolished.”
Praising the dramatic decision, Trump tweeted, “North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in welcomed the decision, saying it is a “significant step toward the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula the world has wished for.”
The gesture came ahead of a historic meeting between the US and North Korea, expected to be held next May or June. Another significant summit is expected to gather the North Korean leader and South Korean president next week in the demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula. The summit will be only the third between the countries’ leaders since the end of the Korean war in 1953.
South Korea announced on Wednesday it is considering replacing a truce that halted that conflict with a permanent peace treaty, thus formally ending the war.
Kim spent the last year conducting a series of nuclear and ICBM tests, which raised concerns over a possible war between his country and the US. In November 2017, Pyongyang announced it has tested its first ICBM that can strike anywhere in the US mainland. The countries’ relations have gone through different dispositions, ending in expected talks to tackle the North Korean nuclear issue.