North Korea says its quest for nuclear weapons is “complete” and it “no longer needs” to test its weapons capability, a significant development ahead of diplomatic engagement with South Korea and the United States.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Saturday that “under the proven condition of complete nuclear weapons, we no longer need any nuclear tests, mid-range and intercontinental ballistic rocket tests, and that the nuclear test site in northern area has also completed its mission,” as quoted by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA.
The announcement appears to signify a remarkable change in policy for Kim, following a relentless pursuit of nuclear and ballistic weapons as a means to ensure his regime’s survival — although some analysts remain skeptical, pointing out that Kim hasn’t tested a missile since November.
The news comes six days before a meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a precursor to a much-anticipated planned encounter between Kim and President Donald Trump expected to take place in late May or early June.
Vipin Narang, an associate political science professor and nuclear proliferation expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said, “The aim of this, in my view, is to make it exceedingly difficult for Trump to say the North is uninterested in talks and walk away,” he said. “Kim is doing everything he can now – in a reversible way, mind you – to ensure the summit happens.
Kim stressed at the party meeting his desire to shift the national focus to improving the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by international sanctions and the “maximum pressure” strategy pushed by Trump.