Pyongyang says it’s halting long-range missile and nuclear tests

World Today

Ahead of this week’s inter-Korean Summit, Pyongyang announced it will freeze its weapons programs. It also said a nuclear test site had completed its mission. CGTN’s Jack Barton reports from Seoul.

The surprise announcement from Pyongyang appeared to signify a radical policy for Kim Jong Un, who was said to now see economic development as a top priority and not the relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons.

U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that it was “big progress” and that he was looking forward to his summit with Kim.

The news was also welcomed in Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo, but Japan’s prime minister appeared to doubt the measures go far enough for a peace deal.

“What’s important is that this motion leads to complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs,” said Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan.

Even without a close look Pyongyang’s announcement, it appeared to fall well short of nuclear disarmament. The DPRK is estimated to have 10-20 nuclear bombs and many more missiles, and while there was a commitment not to test or proliferate weapons, there was no mention of scrapping them or the facilities required to create nuclear warheads, and no commitment not to build more.

Pyongyang said that the latest move is because its weapons program is complete so there is no more need for tests. Analysts say it will take much more than a test freeze to bring the U.S. to the negotiating table.

“President Trump calls for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, or CVID, and North Korea cannot reject this. If North Korea rejects the CVID, it will not be able to normalize relations with America,” explained Cheong Seong-Chang, Senior Researcher at Sejong Institute.

The latest announcement came one day after a direct hotline was established between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in, enabling them to speak directly ahead of the upcoming summit.

South Koreans react to DPRK’s weapons test freeze announcement

In response to the announcement from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, people in Seoul remain cautious. Here’s a round-up of what some of them had to say.

Brian Becker on the DPRK’s promise to freeze nuclear and ICBM testing

CGTN’s Susan Roberts spoke with Brian Becker, the Executive Director of the Answer Coalition. It’s an anti-war and social justice organization. She asked him what’s behind the timing for the DPRK’s promise to freeze weapons testing.