North Korea says it will suspend missile tests, close nuclear test site

Joann Johnston
April 21, 2018

North Korea and South Korea are planning to meet in before Kim Jong-un meets in May with the United States and President Donald Trump to discuss peace negotiations.

"From April 21, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles", Yonhap quoted North Korean state media as saying.

"The northern nuclear test ground of the DPRK will be dismantled to transparently guarantee the discontinuance of the nuclear test", it said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is aired on the North's Korean Central TV Station on Wednesday.

In the report, Kim expressed the need for "global nuclear disarmament" - a possible reference to past statements indicating North Korea would only completely disarm when the US agrees to do the same. It has carried out all six of its nuclear tests there, beginning in 2006, including the most powerful one in September past year.

South Korea's presidential office said the North's announcement signifies "meaningful progress" toward denuclearization, Reuters reported.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Moon immediately welcomed Pyongyang's announcement. North Korea had previously cut those links in 2016 during inter-Korean tensions.

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"It will contribute to creating a very positive environment for the success of the upcoming inter-Korean and North-U.S. summits". In the opaque world that is North Korea, the leader's residence is not public knowledge.

For years, the impoverished North has pursued a "byungjin" policy of "simultaneous development" of both the military and the economy.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said the country is making the move to shift its national focus and improve its economy.

Kim at the Friday party meeting spoke of the need to prioritize putting energy and resources into building the economy, according to the KCNA statement.

South Korean scientists have questioned whether the North could continue conducting underground nuclear detonations at its mountainous test site in Kilju in the northeast due to a series of earthquakes that were likely triggered by the activity, suggesting it is too unstable for further bomb tests.

It sent a delegation to the Winter Olympics held in South Korea.

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