(CNSNews.com) – Kim Jong Un said Wednesday he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in have made a “firm commitment” to work towards transforming the Korean peninsula into a land of peace, without nuclear weapons and threats.
At a summit in Pyongyang, Kim also reportedly agreed to pay a visit – unprecedented for a North Korean leader – to Seoul in the coming months, and he and Moon signaled plans to submit a bid to jointly host the summer Olympics in 14 years’ time.
Kim said he was willing to take steps towards denuclearization including permanently dismantling the regime’s nuclear facilities in Yongbyon – but he made that conditional on “corresponding actions” to be taken by the United States, in the spirit of the joint statement signed at his summit with President Trump in Singapore last June.
Kim also said he would dismantle an important missile-testing site, under the monitoring of international experts.
In Singapore, Trump said the North Korean dictator made a commitment to shut down a missile testing site, but this is believed to be the first time Kim agreed to do it with outside verification.
The Sohae site in Tongchang-ri, near the border with China, has been the location of many of the regime’s most important missile tests, including launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles last year.
In a tweet just after midnight Wednesday, Trump referred to some of the reported agreements coming out of the Kim-Moon summit.
“Kim Jong Un has agreed to allow Nuclear inspections, subject to final negotiations, and to permanently dismantle a test site and launch pad in the presence of international experts. In the meantime there will be no Rocket or Nuclear testing.”
“Hero remains to continue being … returned home to the United States,” Trump continued, in reference to the remains of American troops missing in action since the Korean war. “Also, North and South Korea will file a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics. Very exciting!”
Other measures agreed upon during the Kim-Moon summit included the setting up of a joint military committee to enhance communication and prevent accidental clashes, including at sea and in the air, and steps towards resuming inter-Korean tourism and industrial cooperation projects.
Moon is expected to return to Seoul on Thursday, after three days of talks.
Yongbyon, some 60 miles north of Pyongyang, has been ground zero for the regime’s nuclear programs for nearly half a century. A plutonium-based five-megawatt graphite-moderated reactor and fuel rod plant were built there in the 1970-80s
When the Clinton administration signed the Agreed Framework in 1994, the Kim regime agreed to mothball the reactor at Yongbyon and to admit U.N. inspectors to monitor the freeze, in return for the provision of alternative energy supplies, including U.S. heavy fuel shipments.
But in 2002 the Bush administration discovered that North Korea had been cheating on the deal for years, by carrying out covert uranium-enrichment activity. After it confronted the North Koreans with evidence of the violations, the 1994 agreement began to fall apart.
The U.S. suspended the fuel shipments, North Korea expelled the inspectors, and resumed activities at Yongbyon, before withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
After numerous rounds of “six-party talks,” the regime agreed in 2007 to shut down the Yongbyon reactor, and in 2008 it demolished the main cooling tower, in a supposed symbol of its commitment to the denuclearization deal.
But the talks stalled in late 2008 amid disagreements over verification, and never resumed.
In 2009, Pyongyang resumed the reprocessing of spent fuel to recover plutonium and that year carried out its second nuclear test. (It has since carried out four more, most recently last September.)
Facilities at Yongbyon have been operational ever since, and further development there has included the construction of an experimental light-water reactor adjacent to the original one.