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Moon Jae In and Kim Jong Un
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/KBS via APTN

North Korea to close missile test site

September 19, 2018

North Korea agreed to abolish key missile facilities and close its main nuclear site. Kim Jong Un promised to visit Seoul soon – it would be a North Korean leader's first trip to the South's capital since 1945.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have reached an agreement on a range of issues during a summit in Pyongyang.

Moon is on a three-day trip to the North Korean capital for his third meeting with Kim this year in a bid to improve ties between the neighboring states, following US President Donald Trump's meeting with the North Korean leader in June.

What did they agree?

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the two leaders touched on several key issues:

  • The leaders agreed to turn the Korean Peninsula into a "land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats."
  • A buffer zone and flight exclusion zones will be established, starting with the removal of land mines and guard posts at the 1953 truce village Panmunjom, the countries' defense chiefs said separately.  
  • Kim promised to visit Seoul "in the near future." It would be a North Korean leader's first visit to the South's capital since the peninsula was divided at the end of World War II.
  • Moon said North Korea had agreed to "permanently" dismantle a major missile facility in the presence of foreign observers.
  • Moon also said North Korea had agreed to dismantle its main Nyongbyon nuclear complex on the condition that the US took unspecified corresponding action.
  • Joint searches for remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War would be made, said the defense chiefs in their supplementary statement.
  • Both sides also agreed to seek to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics.

Wednesday's summit followed stalled talks between Pyongyang and Washington over the North's nuclear program initiated when Trump met Kim in Singapore in June.

North Korea wants relief from crippling international sanctions imposed at the UN last year and a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Washington wants a "final, fully verifiable denuclearization" in the North.

Wednesday marks 13 years since Pyongyang agreed to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has since staged six nuclear tests and tested long-range missiles. 

Initial reactions

The New York-based political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said Wednesday's summit would "probably generate rosy headlines but do little to accelerate efforts to denuclearize North Korea."

Kim would seek "economic benefits" and "progressives" aligned with Moon's government would "inflate the summit's accomplishments," Eurasia added.

South Korea's conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper in an editorial Tuesday said: "Quite a number of people are now fed up with the surprise events between the leaders."

Trump described the agreement as "very exciting," but added that North Korea's pledge to dismantle nuclear facilities and allow inspections was "subject to final negotiations."

Korea families reunited

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would brief the UN Security Council on September 27 on the denuclearisation bid, said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on a visit to Japan said Britain was ready to relax economic sanctions on North Korea when concrete evidence of the North's denuclearisation emerged.

China, North Korea's closest ally, said in a pre-summit comment that the Security Council should take action to reverse sanctions "at the appropriate time."

"Confrontation is a dead end," said Chinese UN Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu.

Demarcation zone

Buffer zones along the two Koreas land and sea borders would be created to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes, said the Korean defense chiefs in their supplementary statement.

A no-fly zone above the military demarcation line would apply to planes, helicopters and drones.

The Koreas' 248-kilometer (155-mile) border is the world's most heavily fortified, with hundreds of thousands of troops stationed along its contours.

The Korean peninsula was divided into a Soviet-backed north and U.S.-backed South at the end of World War II in 1945. Technically, North and South Korea are still at war, having only signed a truce rather than a full-fledged peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

cw, ipj/sms (AP, AFP)

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