N Korea may dismantle nuke facility if US takes reciprocal action — Moon

  • 19 Sep 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says Pyongyang has agreed to "permanently dismantle" Nyongbyon nuclear facility if there are corresponding measures from the US, after a summit with the North's Kim Jong-un, a development hailed by Trump.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un display signed documents during the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang on September 19, 2018. ( Reuters )

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to permanently dismantle his main nuclear complex at Nyongbyon if the US takes corresponding measures, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday after the two leaders held summit talks in Pyongyang.

Both sides are trying to sustain a nuclear diplomacy with Washington, which has been pushing hard for stronger disarmament moves from the North.

The Korean leaders also said the North would dismantle a missile engine test site and launch pad in the presence of outside inspectors, and would seek to host the 2032 Summer Olympics together. 

"For the first time, South and North Korea agreed on a specific step toward denuclearisation. It is a very meaningful achievement," Moon said.

"North Korea has agreed to permanently dismantle the Dongchang-ri missile engine test site and launch pads in the presence of international experts. 

"Also, North Korea has agreed to take additional measures such as the permanent dismantling of Nyongbyon nuclear facility if there are corresponding measures from the US."

Moon also said Kim would try to visit Seoul sometime this year.

'A land of peace'

"We have agreed to make the Korean Peninsula a land of peace that is free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat," Kim said as he stood by Moon's side at the guesthouse where Moon is staying. 

"The road to our future will not always be smooth and we may face challenges and trials we can't anticipate. 

"But we aren't afraid of headwinds because our strength will grow as we overcome each trial based on the strength of our nation."

US President Donald Trump welcomed the developments as "very exciting", on Twitter. 

Other agreements

Both sides also agreed to disarm a jointly controlled border village, starting with the removal of land mines, and set up first-ever joint search effort at their border for bodies of soldiers killed in Korean War.

The two Koreas also agreed to establish "buffer zones" along their land and sea borders to prevent the danger of accidental clashes.

They also agreed to withdraw 11 guard posts from the Demilitarised Zone by December, with aim of removing them all one day. 

The two Koreas will establish a joint military committee to evaluate how to reduce tensions and maintain communication to defuse crises and prevent accidental clashes. 

TRT World's Bruce Harrison is in Seoul and has the latest on the Kim-Moon summit.

Litmus test

The latest summit will be a litmus test for stalled negotiations on the North's nuclear programme between Pyongyang and Washington, and for another meeting Kim recently proposed to US President Donald Trump following their historic encounter in June in Singapore.

Moon was seeking to engineer a proposal that combines a framework for the North's denuclearisation and a joint declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War.

Washington wants North Korea to outline the entirety of its nuclear programme, and its response to Wednesday's joint statement from the Koreas remains to be seen. 

While the declaration appears to fall short of what Washington wants, President Donald Trump has maintained that he and Kim have a solid relationship and both leaders have expressed interest in meeting again after their June summit in Singapore. 

Ending Korean War?

North Korea has been demanding a declaration formally ending the Korean War, which was stopped in 1953 by a ceasefire, but neither leader mentioned it as they read the joint statement.

North Korea was expected to hold a huge mass games spectacle later in the day, with Moon attending an event expected to draw about 150,000 spectators, Seoul said. 

It wasn't clear if Kim would attend.

On Tuesday, Kim gave the South Korean president an exceedingly warm welcome, the first day of the summit, meeting him and his wife at Pyongyang's airport, itself a very unusual gesture, then riding into town with Moon in an open limousine through streets lined with crowds of North Koreans, who cheered and waved the flag of their country and a blue-and-white flag that symbolises Korean unity.