North Korea to Close Missile Facilities in Presence of Foreign Experts

Photo from Ukrinform–UATV

North Korea said today that it would permanently abolish its key missile facilities in the presence of foreign experts, in a new gesture by leader Kim Jong Un to revive faltering talks with Washington over his country’s nuclear program, Reuters reports.

He signed a pledge to permanently close the Tongchang-ri facility, after talks in Pyongyang with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in. Moon said the North was willing to close its main nuclear complex only if the United States took unspecified reciprocal action.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Pyongyang, the two Korean leaders agreed to turn the Korean peninsula into a “land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threats.”

Kim also promised to “visit Seoul in the near future,” which would be the first visit by any North Korean leader.

A three-day inter-Korean summit is taking place in Pyongyang. The main topics are termination of the North Korea’s nuclear program and settlement of the conflict between the two countries. The summit started on Sept. 18 and ends on Sept. 20.

The first two meetings between the two leaders were held in the demilitarized zone of the border village of Panmunjom in April and May 2018. On April 27, the leaders agreed on full nuclear disarmament and on the official end of the Korean war, adopting a Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula.

Kim pledged to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” during his two meetings with Moon and at his historic June summit with Trump in Singapore, but discussions over how to implement the vague commitments have since faltered. Washington is demanding concrete action towards denuclearization, such as a full disclosure of North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities, before agreeing to key goals of Pyongyang: declaring an official end to the 1950 to 1953 Korean War and easing on tough international sanctions.