North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced early on Saturday that he was suspending all missile tests and will shut down a nuclear test site, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.
Kim’s move comes just a week ahead of a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in, and a month before he is expected to hold an unprecedented summit with US President Donald Trump.
North Korea’s nuclear tests at the Punggye-ri test site brought the region to the brink and soured ties with the United States and Japan in 2017, especially after September, when the country announced its sixth and largest nuclear test, firing a missile that flew over Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean.
Kim announced his country’s decision to suspend the nuclear tests and missile launches at a plenary meeting of his party. “As weaponisation of nuclear weapons has been verified, it is not necessary for us to conduct any more nuclear tests or test launches of mid- and long-range missiles or ICBMs,” Kim said at the meeting, The Guardian reported.
“The nuclear test site has done its job,” Kim added.
Both the United States and South Korea praised the announcement. “We view the North’s decision as a significant step toward the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula the world has wished for,” Yoon Young-chan, a spokesperson for Moon, The New York Times reported.
Trump said on Twitter, “This is very good news for North Korea and the World - big progress!”