Mon | Apr 6, 2020

Kim agrees to dismantle main nuclear site if US does the same

Published:Wednesday | September 19, 2018 | 9:55 AM
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands after signing the documents at the Paekhwawon State Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, September 19, 2018. (Pyongyang Press Corps Pool via AP)

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The leaders of North and South Korea announced a wide range of agreements Wednesday which they said were a major step toward peace on the Korean Peninsula.

But the premier pledge on denuclearisation contained a big condition, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stating he’d permanently dismantle his main nuclear complex only if the United States takes unspecified corresponding measures. 

Compared to the vague language of their two summits earlier this year, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed in their second day of meetings to an ambitious programme meant to tackle soaring tensions last year that had many fearing war as the North tested a string of increasingly powerful weapons.

Kim promised to accept international inspectors to monitor the closing of a key missile test site and launch pad and to visit Seoul soon, and both leaders vowed to work together to try to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.

But while containing several tantalising offers, their joint statement appeared to fall short of the major steps many in Washington have been looking for — such as a commitment by Kim to provide a list of North Korea’s nuclear facilities, a solid step-by-step timeline for closing them down, or an agreement to allow international inspectors to assess progress or discover violations.

It also was unclear what “corresponding steps” North Korea wants from the U.S. to dismantle its nuclear site.

The question is whether it will be enough for U.S. President Donald Trump to pick up where Moon has left off.

Trump, tweeting about the Korean leaders’ agreements, said, “Very exciting!”

Declaring they had made a major step toward peace, Moon and Kim stood side by side as they announced the joint statement to a group of North and South Korean reporters after a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning.

They took no questions.

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