SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea will immediately suspend nuclear and missile tests and scrap its nuclear test site and instead pursue economic growth and peace, the North’s state media said on Saturday, ahead of planned summits with South Korea and the United States.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country no longer needed to conduct nuclear tests or intercontinental ballistic missile tests because it had completed its goal of developing nuclear weapons, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
North Korea said that to create an “international environment favourable” for its economy, it would “facilitate close contact and active dialogue” with neighbouring countries and the international community.
It was the first time Kim directly addressed his position on North Korea’s nuclear weapons programmes ahead of planned summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week and with U.S. President Donald Trump in late May or early June.
“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,” Trump said on Twitter.
South Korea said the North’s decision signified “meaningful” progress toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and would create favourable conditions for successful meetings with it and the United States.
“We’re all looking for evidence that Kim is really serious about negotiations, and announcements like this certainly suggest he is, and that he is trying to make clear to the world that he is,” said David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.