Kim back­flips over mis­siles

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - WORLD -

NORTH Korea has an­nounced it has sus­pended nu­clear and long-range mis­sile tests and plans to close its nu­clear test site.

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

The North also vowed to ac­tively en­gage with re­gional neigh­bours and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to se­cure peace in the Korean Penin­sula and cre­ate an “op­ti­mal in­ter­na­tional en­vi­ron­ment” to build its econ­omy.

The an­nounce­ments came days be­fore North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is to meet South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in in a bor­der truce vil­lage for a rare sum­mit aimed at re­solv­ing the nu­clear stand­off with Py­ongyang. A sep­a­rate meet­ing be­tween Kim and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is an­tic­i­pated in May or June.

The North’s de­ci­sions were made in a meet­ing of the rul­ing party’s full Cen­tral Com­mit­tee which had con­vened to dis­cuss a “new stage” of poli­cies. The Korean Work­ers’ Party’s Cen­tral Com­mit­tee de­clared it a “great vic­tory” in the coun­try’s of­fi­cial “byungjin” pol­icy line of si­mul­ta­ne­ously pur­su­ing eco­nomic and nu­clear de­vel­op­ment.

The com­mit­tee unan­i­mously adopted a res­o­lu­tion that called for con­cen­trat­ing na­tional ef­forts to achieve a strong so­cial­ist econ­omy and ground­break­ing im­prove­ments in peo­ple’s lives.

“To se­cure trans­parency on the sus­pen­sion of nu­clear tests, we will close the repub­lic’s north­ern nu­clear test site,” the party’s res­o­lu­tion said.

The agency quoted Kim as say­ing dur­ing the meet­ing: “Nu­clear de­vel­op­ment has pro­ceeded sci­en­tif­i­cally and in due or­der and the de­vel­op­ment of the de­liv­ery strike means also pro­ceeded sci­en­tif­i­cally and ver­i­fied the com­ple­tion of nu­clear weapons.

“We no longer need any nu­clear test or test launches of in­ter­me­di­ate and in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal range bal­lis­tic mis­siles and be­cause of this the north­ern nu­clear test site has fin­ished its mis­sion.”

North Korea’s abrupt diplo­matic out­reach in re­cent months came after a flurry of weapons tests, in­clud­ing the un­der­ground det­o­na­tion of a pos­si­ble ther­monu­clear war­head and three launches of de­vel­op­men­tal in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles de­signed to strike the US main­land.

Some an­a­lysts see Kim as en­ter­ing the up­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions from a po­si­tion of strength after hav­ing de­clared his nu­clear force as com­plete in Novem­ber. South Korean and US of­fi­cials have said Kim is likely try­ing to save his bro­ken econ­omy from heavy sanc­tions. Of­fi­cials in Seoul said Kim had shown gen­uine in­ter­est in deal­ing away his nu­clear weapons.

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