SEOUL—North Korea has agreed to “permanently” abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, and is willing to close its main nuclear complex subject to final negotiations, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said on Sept. 19.
Speaking at a joint news conference following their summit talks in Pyongyang, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said they agreed to turn the Korean peninsula into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”
According to Yonhap, the North’s decision to take additional denuclearization steps despite the United States continuing to stand firm with its maximum pressure campaign and economic sanctions is likely a gesture aimed at restarting its denuclearization talks with the U.S.
“I hope the talks between the North and the U.S. quickly resume,” Moon said at a joint press conference.
Kim said he will visit Seoul in the near future, in what would be the first-ever visit to the South’s capital by a North Korean leader.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted in response to the announcements: “Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts.”
“In the meantime, there will be no Rocket or Nuclear testing. Hero remains to continue being returned home to the United States. Also, North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics. Very Exciting.”
Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts. In the meantime there will be no Rocket or Nuclear testing. Hero remains to continue being……..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2018
….returned home to the United States. Also, North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics. Very exciting!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 19, 2018
Denuclearization negotiations on the North’s nuclear program between Pyongyang and Washington stalled when a meeting between Kim and Trump was cancelled in August following their historic encounter in June in Singapore.
Kim had pledged to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” during his summits with Moon in April and Trump in June, but Trump cited concerns that China may have been exerting a negative influence on Pyongyang to stall denuclearization efforts.
“Additionally, because of our much tougher Trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were (despite the UN Sanctions, which are in place),” Trump said in a tweet.
But at a surprise inter-Korean summit in September, Kim announced that he wanted to denuclearize the Korean peninsula during Trump’s first term and end long-standing hostile relations between North Korea and the United States by 2021.
Kim’s remarks marked the first time that the North Korean leader offered a potential timeline for dismantling his country’s nuclear weapons program.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a news briefing on Sept. 18 that Washington hoped the latest inter-Korean summit would bring about “meaningful, verifiable steps towards the denuclearization of North Korea” and called it a “historic opportunity” for Kim to follow through on commitments he made with Trump.
The United States is pressing countries to strictly observe international sanctions, which will likely be a key theme when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hosts a Security Council meeting on North Korea on Sept. 27 on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly.
Moon told the joint press conference that the summit marked the first time that steps towards denuclearization were discussed between the two Koreas.
“The North has agreed to permanently shut down its Dongchang-ri missile engine testing facility and missile launch pad under the participation of experts from related countries,” Moon said. He said that Kim also agreed to permanently shut down nuclear facilities in Yongbyon pending final negotiations with the United States.
In their historic Singapore meeting, Trump promised North Korea a prosperous future if Kim carries out his commitment to completely, irreversibly, and verifiably abandon nuclear weapons.
This week’s summit is intended to craft concrete steps to implement the Panmunjom Declaration, named after the border village where they first met, Seoul officials said.
The two Koreas also adopted a separate military accord aimed at preventing armed clashes between the old foes, which are technically still at war because the Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
The neighbors have already agreed to withdraw some guard posts and equipment, in a bid to transform the world’s most heavily fortified border into a no-weapons area.
Pyongyang says it has destroyed its main nuclear and missile engine test site, and has halted atomic and ballistic missile tests, but some U.S. officials and analysts have said they believe it is continuing to work on its weapons plans clandestinely.
South Korea is pinning high hopes on Kim’s remarks to Moon’s special envoys earlier this month that he wanted to achieve denuclearization within Trump’s first term in office ending in early 2021.
In previous, failed talks, North Korea has said it could consider giving up its nuclear program if the United States provided security guarantees by removing troops from South Korea and withdrawing its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from the South and Japan.
U.S. officials involved in the latest negotiations have said North Korea has refused to even start discussions about defining denuclearization.
By Hyonhee Shin and Joyce Lee. Additional reporting by Epoch Times Staff.
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