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North Korea Says it Will Suspend Nuclear and Missile Testing

Image: North Korea Says it Will Suspend Nuclear and Missile Testing

By    |   Friday, 20 April 2018 07:38 PM

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un has announced Pyongyang 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.

President  Trump responded immediately with a tweet commending the news.

CNN's Will Ripley, one of the few Western reporters covering North Korea full time, said he was left "speechless" by the announcement. He also credited President Trump's efforts at bring North Korea to the table for peace talks.

“Wolf, I have to say, I am really almost speechless here at the pace at which North Korea has done this U-turn,” Ripley told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. “This all started with Donald Trump agreeing to sit down with a summit with Kim Jong Un.”

Ripley continued: "This is an extraordinarily significant development, and frankly a huge win for President Trump going into these discussions, this potential summit, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

He then quoted a North Korean official who had optimistic words about the move: “Finally Kim Jong Un has decided to open up,” the official told Ripley. “This is a new chapter for the DPRK. He has committed himself to the path of denuclearization and will now focus solely on economic growth and the national economy. Finally he has realized the best path forward is to open up the country and normalize relations.”

“He is finally being recognized by the international community, and this is an historic, timely opportunity,” the North Korean official reportedly told Ripley.

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 neighbors 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 set 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. officials have said Kim is likely trying to save his broken economy from heavy sanctions.

Seoul says Kim has expressed genuine interest in dealing away his nuclear weapons. But North Korea for decades has been pushing a concept of "denuclearization" that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its troops from the peninsula.

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North Korea says 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 suspension of nuclear and ICBM tests went into effect Saturday.The country says it's making the move to...
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Friday, 20 April 2018 07:38 PM
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