DPRK announces freeze on nuclear, missile tests, shutdown of nuke test site from April 21

Saturday, 2018-04-21 07:56:04
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Photo taken on May 9, 2016 shows the venue of the 7th Congress of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang, the DPRK. (Photo:Xinhua)
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The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) said on April 21 that it has decided to suspend nuclear and missile tests and shut down its atomic test site, in a surprise announcement that could give momentum to its upcoming summits with the Republic of Korea (RoK) and the United States.

"From April 21, North Korea (DPRK) will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, citing the outcome of a key meeting of the ruling party held on April 20.

"The North will dismantle a nuclear test site in the country's northern area to guarantee transparency in suspending nuclear tests," it added.

The decision was made at the plenary meeting of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), which drew keen attention over whether the DPRK would possibly unveil a shift in stance toward its nuclear programs.

Trump welcomed DPRK's decision to suspend nuclear tests and close the nuclear test site.

"This is very good news for North Korea (DPRK) and the world - big progress! Look forward to our Summit," Trump tweeted.

At the meeting, the DPRK hinted at a new policy line to bolster its fragile economy, in an apparent shift in the focus in Kim's signature "byongjin" policy of seeking both nuclear and economic development, which was adopted at the WPK's meeting held in March 2013.

Kim said that it will focus on boosting its economy, which has been crippled by tougher international sanctions over its nuclear and missile provocations.

"At the current stage where our nation has risen to the status of a political and military powerhouse, focusing on building the economy based on socialism is the WPK's strategic party line," Kim stressed.

Kim will sit down with RoK President Moon Jae-in on April 27, followed by a summit with US President Donald Trump probably in May or early June. DPRK's denuclearization will top the agenda for those meetings.

President Moon said on April 19 that DPRK has voiced a willingness for "complete denuclearization" and does not attach conditions that the US cannot accept, such as the withdrawal of US forces stationed in RoK.

Yonhap, Xinhua, Reuters
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