North Korea’s Kim agrees to ‘dismantle’ key missile test sites

North Korea has agreed to “permanently” shut one of its main missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in announced at a joint press conference with Kim Jong-un on Wednesday.

The leaders of the two Koreas, who held summit talks in Pyongyang, said they agreed to turn the Korean peninsula into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats”.

“South and North Korea agreed on a specific step toward denuclearisation. It is a very meaningful achievement. 

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“North Korea has agreed to permanently dismantle the Dongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch pads in the presence of international experts,” Moon said after a two-day summit with his North Korean counterpart in Pyongyang.

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.

Pyongyang is also willing to close its main nuclear complex in Nyongbyon if the United States takes reciprocal action, Moon said.

“North Korea has agreed to take additional measures such as the permanent dismantling of Nyongbyon nuclear facility if there are corresponding measures from the US.” Moon added. 

The two leaders also agreed to establish “buffer zones” along their land and sea borders to prevent the danger of accidental clashes.

“We have adopted a military agreement to terminate the historic tragic confrontations and hostility that have lasted over the past decades,” Kim said, adding: “We agree to make active efforts to make the Korean peninsula a land of peace.”

The two states also agreed to pursue a bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympic Games, and actively work together in other international competitions including the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Nuclear arsenal

Though North Korea has unilaterally stopped nuclear and missile tests, it did not allow international inspections for a dismantlement of its only known nuclear test site in May, drawing criticism that its action could not be verified and could be easily reversed.

Pyongyang has consistently refused to give up its nuclear arsenal unilaterally, and stressed that a formal declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War should come first.

Satellite photographs and other evidence in recent months have suggested North Korea is continuing to work on its nuclear programme clandestinely.

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.

Korean families reunite after being separated since 1950s

After the high symbolism of the two leaders’ first meeting in April in the Demilitarised Zone that divides the Korean peninsula, and Kim’s historic summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June, progress has largely stalled.

In Singapore, Kim declared his backing for denuclearisation of the peninsula, but no details were agreed and Washington and Pyongyang have since sparred over what that means and how it will be achieved.

Washington is pressing for the North’s “final, fully verified denuclearisation”, while Pyongyang wants a formal declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War is over and has condemned “gangster-like” demands for it to give up its weapons unilaterally.

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