North Korea is done with nuclear tests, says Kim Jong-un
Ahead of landmark diplomatic meetings with South Korea and the US, North Korea has declared its nuclearization is "complete" and it therefore "no longer needs" to test its weapons. On Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said, "We no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range/intercontinental ballistic rocket tests. The nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission," reported state-run KCNA.
The announcement marks a 180° shift in Kim's policy, which has so far been the nuclearization of North Korea. The state has now published a six-point list highlighting policy changes. It includes using nuclear weapons only as the last resort, discarding the nuclear-test site in northern area, promoting global nuclear disarmament, developing North Korea as a "strong socialist economy" and normalizing international relations.
Both the US and South Korea have welcomed the development, calling it a sure sign of progress and a great start to the upcoming talks. "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 tweeted on Saturday.
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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2018
The timing of this bold move is remarkable. It's carefully placed between Kim's historic meets with powerful world leaders. He is about to meet American President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in and has already met Chinese President Xi Jinping. Is the U-turn a result of Jinping's influence then? Analysts haven't ruled out the possibility.
However, Pyongyang rarely does much for free. "The announcement is significant, but whether North Korea is truly serious remains to be seen," an ex-CIA North Korea analyst told CNN. "They'll be looking for something from us. It might be freeze-for-freeze deals or relief from economic sanctions. So, what are we going to give for this freezing of tests?" she asked, echoing the general skepticism.