Seoul, April 21: North Korea on Saturday announced its suspension of all missile tests and shutting down of nuclear test site, saying its quest for nuclear arms was “complete” and it “no longer needed” to test its weapons capability. “Under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was quoted as saying by the state-run KCNA news agency.
North Korea conducted all of its six nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri test site in the northeastern province since 2006. Its latest and most powerful nuclear test was conducted in September, Yonhap news agency reported. The surprise announcement came as North Korea prepares for historic talks with South Korea and the US. It also came just weeks after Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping on his first official trip outside his country.
“This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit,” Trump tweeted after the announcement. A spokesperson for the South Korean President called the North’s move “meaningful progress”. “It will also contribute to creating a very positive environment for the success of the upcoming South-North summit and North-US summit,” a statement from Moon’s office said.
The declaration came as Pyongyang continued to make concessions ahead of the talks. In March, Kim told a South Korean delegation that he “understood” the need for joint US-South Korean military drills.
China welcomed North Korea’s decision. “The decision made by North Korea will help ease the situation and promote the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula as well as a political settlement of the peninsula issue,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang. (IANS)