SEOUL: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un announced Friday night his country will carry out no more nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile tests and will shut down its atomic test site, the North’s state media reported Saturday.
The declaration, long sought by the US, will be seen as a crucial step in the fast diplomatic dance on and around the Korean peninsula.
It comes less than a week before Kim meets South Korean leader Moon Jae-in for a summit in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, and ahead of a much-anticipated encounter with US President Donald Trump.
- Trump says ‘very good news’
Trump reacted positively to the news, taking to his favourite social media platform to issue a response and saying he was looking “forward to our Summit”.
“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,” he wrote.
Earlier, Kim and Trump have traded threats of war and personal insults as tensions ramped up, and even when there was an extended pause in testing, US officials said that it could not be interpreted as a halt without an explicit statement from Pyongyang.
Trump has called Kim “rocket man”, while the latter has termed the American head-of-state a “dotard”.
In a New Year speech, Kim had stated that the development of the state nuclear force had been completed, saying he had a nuclear button on his desk, which prompted Trump to tweet that he had a bigger one of his own.
- Japan PM Abe says North Korean move is ‘forward motion,’ but results essential
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Saturday he welcomed North Korea’s statement that it was suspending all nuclear and missile tests as “forward motion” but that this must lead to verifiable denuclearisation.
“This announcement is forward motion that I’d like to welcome,” Abe told reporters.
“But what’s important is that this leads to complete, verifiable denuclearisation. I want to emphasize this.”
Japan has advocated a policy of maximum pressure on North Korea to get the reclusive state to abandon its weapons program.
- China’s Foreign Ministry welcomes North Korea nuclear test halt
China’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it welcomed a move by North Korea to halt nuclear and missile tests, which it said would help ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and promote denuclearization.
“The Chinese side believes that North Korea’s decision will help ameliorate the situation on the peninsula,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its website. “China welcomes this.”
North Korea’s state media said earlier on Saturday the country would immediately halt nuclear and missile tests and abolish a nuclear test site in a bid to pursue economic growth and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
- EU welcomes North Korean move on nuclear tests, urges denuclearisation
The European Union’s foreign affairs chief said on Saturday that North Korea’s announcement to stop nuclear tests was a positive step and called for an “irreversible denuclearisation” of the Asian country.
North Korean state media said earlier on Saturday the country would immediately suspend nuclear and missile tests and scrap its nuclear test site.
The North Korean move “is a positive, long sought-after step on the path that has now to lead to the country’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation,” Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
- Britain hopes North Korean nuclear move will be positive step
Britain said on Saturday that North Korea’s plan to cease nuclear tests would be a positive step and that it hoped this was a sign of good faith.
“A long term commitment from Kim Jung Un to halt all nuclear tests and ICBM launches would be a positive step. We hope this indicates an effort to negotiate in good faith,” the British government said in a statement.
“We remain committed to working with our international partners to bring about our goal of a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and to do so through peaceful means.”
- Germany: North Korea must disclose its nuclear and missile program
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said North Korea’s announcement that it would immediately suspend nuclear and missile tests was a step in the right direction but added that Pyongyang must reveal its nuclear and missile program.
“To enter into a serious political process working towards the complete decentralization of North Korea, it is however necessary for Pyongyang to follow specific steps and to disclose its complete nuclear and missile program in a verifiable way,” Maas said on Saturday.
“This demand is in accordance with the expectations of the international community,” he added.