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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

Editorial: DPRK’s freeze of nuclear, missile tests amounts to declaration as nuclear power

Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un has announced North Korea’s suspension of nuclear and ICBM tests and the shutdown of its nuclear experiment facilities. This was the first time that Kim has used the word “suspension” for his domestic audience.

 

However, he said that this step would be “an important process in the world’s nuclear disarmament” and would be “in line with efforts to end nuclear experiments completely.” He also said: “We will never use nuclear arms unless our country faces a nuclear threat.”

 

This amounted to nothing less than a declaration that North Korea is a nuclear power.

 

What the international community demands of North Korea is the complete, verifiable, and irreversible disposal of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction and all forms of ballistic missiles. In that sense, no progress whatsoever has been achieved in this issue.

 

While acknowledging that the suspension of nuclear tests is “big progress,” President Donald Trump’s position is not to ease “maximum pressure” until concrete actions toward denuclearization can be verified. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also welcomed the new development as a “positive move,” but stressed that Japan’s “basic policy remains unchanged.”

 

This is the most reasonable response. North Korea has torn up agreements with the U.S. and other countries to freeze nuclear development and give up its nuclear arsenal. One should not be easily swayed by the words of its leader.

 

The U.S.-DPRK summit is being held because North Korea indicated its willingness to discuss denuclearization. Standing firm on this demand was reconfirmed at the recent Japan-U.S. summit meeting.

 

Japan and the U.S. must persist in applying maximum pressure until complete denuclearization is achieved.

 

A constitutional amendment made by North Korea in 2012 calls itself a “nuclear power.” Will it be prepared to delete this provision?

 

The mid-range ballistic missiles capable of attacking Japan are not included in the suspension of missile tests. These missiles also constitute a violation of UN resolutions. North Korea has also failed to mention discarding biological and chemical weapons. And for Japan, a solution to the abduction issue is a top priority issue that is non-negotiable.

 

The inter-Korean summit will be held at the Panmunjom DMZ on April 27.

 

This will be a historical moment marking the first time ever for a North Korean leader to step on South Korean soil.

 

What we ask from ROK President Moon Jae-in is that he makes Kim understand that the international community’s demand is North Korea’s complete abandonment of nuclear arms and missiles and that international sanctions will not be eased until this is realized.

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