North Korea looks to end nuclear tests

MIXED REACTIONS — As North Korean leader announced the suspension of missile tests, he was greeted with words of praise from President Trump and remarks of uncertainty by Japanese minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera. (Reuters)

 

The weekend brought another interesting turn to the  complex web of U.S. and North  Korean relations, as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced that his country would  be suspending their nuclear and  missiles tests, and eliminating their nuclear test site in favor of enabling more economic  growth. This statement marks a move in Kim’s tenacious strategy  of moving North Korea to a nuclear powerhouse. In Kim’s first  speech as leader back in 2012, he said, “The days are gone forever  when our enemies could blackmail us with nuclear bombs.”

However, the state-run Korean Central News Agency  (KCNA) reported that, according to Kim, the state no longer  needed nuclear tests or intercontinental ballistic missile  tests, because it had completed the goal of developing weapons.

The KCNA directly quoted Kim saying, “Under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any  nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket  tests, and the nuclear test site in  northern area has also completed its mission.” Many are saying  that this statement means good things for the future meeting of Kim and President Trump later this month, but critics argue that the suspension of tests still falls  short of Washington’s demands of total denuclearization. Yet the fact that Kim announced this ahead of time may be a sign that  he is more open to talks of denuclearization than previously  feared.

Some critics have also been skeptical of the timing of Kim’s announcement in accordance  with his overall nuclear action. According to the New  York Times, North Korea hasn’t tested missiles since November.  However, 2017 brought 23 missile strikes including intercontinental missiles claimed to be  able to reach mainland U.S.

Despite the many different theories revolving around this advancement, President Trump  is hopeful that this means progress between him and Kim,  who he previously nick-named “Rocket Man.” On Friday, he tweeted: “North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World big progress! Look forward to our Summit.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-In showed similar  optimism as he told journalists, “Meaningful progress for  denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, European  Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres  have all recognized Kim’s announcement as a positive step  in the direction of denuclearization.

However, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the movement was “insufficient” and “not satisfactory,” as North Korea did not specify the short and mid-range missiles that could target and reach Japan. As the historic feud between the U.S. and North Korea comes into a more positive light, the  world is reacting in a kaleidoscope of opinions, critiques and  concerns. Most of which has cemented on the question: With all  the action, what will North Korea ask for in return?  Although the report from  KCNA explained that the actions will be taken in order to instill economic security for North  Korea, many find it hard to recognize the historically militarily-focused leader going forward  with his announcement without asking for a few returns.

As North Korea and South  Korea plan to meet at the entrenched DMZ, the world will  wait to see exactly what Kim’s halt of missile tests means.




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