Koreas hold another summit in Pyongyang

Lester Mason
September 19, 2018

President Moon added the agreement should turn the Korean peninsula into a "land of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear tests".

Mr Kim pledged to work towards the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" during his first meeting with Mr Moon in the Demilitarised Zone that separates the two Koreas in April, and at his summit with Mr Trump in June.

The first hint of a possible joint bid came last week when South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted the country's sports minister Do Jong-hwan as saying Seoul planned to propose the idea during this week's Pyongyang meeting.

As a next step, North Korea will allow experts from "concerned countries" to watch the closure of its missile engine testing site and launch pad in the northwestern town of Dongchang-ri, according to a joint statement signed by Moon and Kim.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert stated on Tuesday that Washington hopes the latest inter-Korean summit will bring about "meaningful, verifiable steps towards the denuclearisation of North Korea" and branded it a "historic opportunity". The North has demonstrated a capability for using mobile launchers to fire its ballistic missiles and some observers believe Pyongyang maintains secret nuclear facilities in addition to Yongbyon.

"Kim is playing this brilliantly: verify that I dismantle a single site that I no longer need anyway while I mass produce the missiles the site helped me develop", said Vipin Narang of MIT.

North Korea also "expressed the will to continue taking further steps like permanent dismantlement" of its main Yongbyon nuclear facility but only if the United States takes "corresponding steps" based on Trump's agreement with Kim at their June summit in Singapore.

Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis said the consensus view was that the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon "was built for (the) express objective of being sacrificed". North Korea has been demanding a declaration formally ending the Korean War, which was stopped in 1953 by a cease-fire, but neither leader mentioned it as they read the joint statement.

The statement was released by Seoul on Wednesday after the Pyongyang summit.

Interested in North Korea?

"Had the North promised to hand over information on its nuclear arsenal, for example, it would have looked much more encouraging". In 2010, a torpedo attack blamed on the North killed 46 South Korean sailors, followed several months later by a North Korean artillery attack that killed four South Koreans, including two civilians, and prompted a South Korean return strike.

On Wednesday evening, Moon and his party will have dinner at the newly-opened Taedonggang fish restaurant on the banks of the eponymous river that flows through Pyongyang.

The destination was chosen after Moon expressed interest in dining at a local restaurant with ordinary citizens. However, a retail shop there sells North Korean caviar at $50 for a 50-gramme jar - a luxury far beyond the reach of most North Koreans.

Later on Wednesday, Moon is scheduled to watch the North's signature "Brilliant Fatherland" Mass Game, with a formation of glowing drones, lasers and stadium-sized gymnastics shows created to glorify the country.

Although it was not clear what "corresponding" USA steps North Korea expected as a condition to make good on the promise to shut down Yongbyon, President Trump, in a tweet just after midnight Wednesday, appeared to deem the summit a success, calling it "Very exciting!".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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