North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, announced early Saturday that his country no longer needed to test nuclear weapons or long-range missiles and would close a nuclear test site.
“The nuclear test site has done its job,” Mr. Kim said in a statement carried by North Korea’s state media.
Mr. Kim’s announcement came just days before a scheduled summit meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea; Mr. Kim is also planning to meet with President Trump soon. It was the second time in two days that he made what appeared to be a significant concession to the United States but in reality cemented the status quo. North Korea already had stopped testing its weapons.
Mr. Kim made no mention in his latest remarks of dismantling the nuclear weapons and long-range missiles North Korea has already built. On the contrary, he suggested he was going to keep them.
Still, Mr. Trump welcomed what Mr. Kim said. “North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site,” the president said in a Twitter message. “This is very good news for North Korea and the World — big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”
There is a very logical reason behind Mr Kim’s sudden change of heart that I have heard about yet it is not being reported for some…
Mr. Moon’s office also praised the announcement. “We view the North’s decision as a significant step toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula the world has wished for,” said Yoon Young-chan, a spokesman for Mr. Moon.
Despite the enthusiasm, American officials have watched Mr. Kim with a mix of satisfaction and wariness.
The North Korean leader’s move could be tactical — putting the United States on the defensive in advance of talks on its nuclear arsenal. By extending an olive branch, American officials said, North Korea is putting pressure on the United States to accept a deal before Mr. Kim agrees to give up North Korea’s nuclear weapons.