North Korea to halt nuclear tests during US talks

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has agreed halt nuclear and missile tests if his country holds talks with the United States.

Kim Jong Un also agreed to meet with South Korea’s president next month.

South Korea’s presidential national security director Chung Eui-yong came up with the agreements after returning from North Korea on Tuesday.

The latest developments have brightened prospects for a dialogue between North Korea and the US over the nuclear programme.

Chung led a 10-member South Korean delegation that met with Kim during a two-day visit to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital following a flurry of cooperative steps taken by the Koreas during last month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

North Korea also said it would not need to keep its nuclear weapons if military threats against it are removed and it receives a credible security guarantee, Chung said.

He said the North promised not to use its nuclear and conventional weapons against South Korea.

Chung said North Korea also expressed willingness to hold a “candid dialogue” with the United States to discuss its nuclear disarmament and establish diplomatic relations.

While such talks with the United States are underway, Chung said North Korea made it clear that it won’t resume strategic provocations like additional nuclear tests or test-launches of ballistic missiles.

“Getting North Korea to agree to halt additional nuclear weapons and missile tests while the dialogue goes on is the biggest achievement of the visit to Pyongyang by the South Korean presidential envoys,” Chung Eui-yong said.

The Koreas are to hold working-level talks ahead of the summit between Kim and liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

If realised, it would be the third-ever such a meeting since the Koreas’ 1945 division.

The two past summits, in 2000 and 2007, were both held in Pyongyang between Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, and two liberal South Korean presidents.

According to AP, they resulted in a series of cooperative projects that were scuttled during subsequent conservative administrations in South Korea.

Last year saw increased fears of war on the Korean Peninsula, with Kim and President Donald Trump exchanging fiery rhetoric and crude insults over Kim’s barrage of weapons tests.

But there is still scepticism whether the developments can help establish genuine peace between the Koreas, which have a long history of failing to follow through with major rapprochement agreements.

The United States has also made it clear that it doesn’t want empty talks with North Korea and that all options, including military measures, remain on the table.